Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Scenario Planning for White South Africa

Scenario planning is something of a cottage industry in South Africa and was particularly popular during the negotiations for democracy in the early 1990s. Careers were launched on the back of this industry, and speakers known for gazing into the crystal ball back then still pack halls with (white) middle class people worried about their

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Weekend in Stellenbosch

On Sunday, walking past the Exclusive Books store, it was interesting to see Kees van der Waal’s new edited text, Winelands, Work and Wealth: Transformations in the Dwars Valley prominently displayed in the window. I found it...

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Where is Grahamstown?

On 10 October 2013, a certain segment of white South Africans left their children with the “girl” for a couple of hours as they marched through the streets demanding acknowledgement of the “genocide” (sic) being perpetrated against...

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

There is no liberal tradition in South Africa

Liberalism regards the individual as the ultimate social and political agent, endowed with a number of rights. The ideology also acknowledges that individuals live in societies and are not totally autonomous. Consequently it also recognizes a number...

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

The story of Happy Sindane puts the lie to South Africa’s rainbow shibboleths

A short South African Press Association bulletin on Monday announced the death of one Happy Sindane. If you don’t remember him (and South Africans are notorious for their short memories), he “made headlines in late May 2003...

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

On the ‘white man’ comment by Israel’s Interior Minister

A muted response in the blogosphere persuaded me to write about Israeli interior minister Eli Yishai’s now not-so-recent remark, which I’ve come to think of as ‘the “white man” comment’. If you missed it, in June 2012...

Friday, March 9th, 2012

The Afrikaans movie template

The creatives at South African satellite TV channel Kyknet — which also produces movies now — not only blatantly rip off American romantic comedy plotlines, but inhabit a South Africa where there is not a single black...

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Poor White Photography

The proliferation of photographers documenting poor whites in South Africa is something to behold. This is significant since poor whites are only a fraction of the total white population — 450,000 out of  4.5 million live below...

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

“You’re a South African, what’s your story?”

New Zealand is often sold to prospective (mostly white) South African immigrants as “South Africa 30 years ago” (wink, wink). That version of an Edenic idyll is not entirely what a young South African found New Zealand...

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

The Dutch Disease

What is it with Dutch cultural elites and South Africa? The last time I travelled two hours to watch an opera, it was on horseback. A self-declared pig farmer I was staying with was invited to attend...

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Fair and Lovely

Horrified by the skin-lightening creams you see advertised in the cityscapes of Africa? Wait till you see the adverts people walk past daily in India or Sri Lanka. This huge billboard (above) sits somewhere on the 10-kilometre...

Monday, August 8th, 2011

White Writing

Years ago, during my first years as a hired hand in academia, I was more careful about doing The Right Thing. I’d read JM Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians as a student, and something clicked for me...

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Interview: Filmmaker Yoruba Richen

Updated: Check out this brand new AIAC interview with Yoruba Richen director of the documentary film, “Promised Land,” about postapartheid land politics in South Africa. It was shot by brand new AIAC contributor, Anni Lynskaer (Danish journalist;...

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

White History Month

… So much of Black History Month takes place in the passive voice. Leaders “get assassinated,” patrons “are refused” service, women “are ejected” from public transport. So the objects of racism are many but the subjects few....

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Film: ‘The Killing Of The Imam’ I chanced upon this 10-minute short film, “The Killing of the Imam,” which recounts the murder of Muslim cleric, journalist (he founded the newspaper “Muslim News” in 1960) and political activist (he was closely linked to...

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Learning Zulu

The plane hits the tarmac with a brief thud. I have landed in South Africa, for the first time. As I exit through the sliding doors of the baggage claim area, an elderly woman is waving at...

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Black Babies Redux

What’s old is new again. This time from French fashion magazine, Numéro, which manages to merge two of our favorite (fashion) trends into one spread: black babies and blackface! I would be offended except this is completely...

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Africa on Film: Black Diamonds

Black Diamonds is a recently released short documentary by Dutch filmmaker, Saska Vredeveld (view the film here). The film offers an inside view of the personal lives of three black South African entrepreneurs, including the odd Felicia...

Friday, July 16th, 2010

The Poors

The Boston Globe’s “Big Picture” site has also published Reuters photographer Finbarr O’Reilly’s widely circulated series of a group of 450 poor whites shack dwellers living in a camp in Krugersdorp close to Johannesburg.   As I...

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Africa on Film: Tarzan!

Few other authors in the 19th and 20th centuries made greater contributions to Hollywood’s racist images of Africa than Edgar Rice Burroughs – Tarzan’s creator. During his lifetime, Burroughs mastered the staple “jungle” movie that has characterized...

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Truth and Reconciliation

In Argentina members of that country’s military dictatorship that conducted a “dirty war”) against its people way back in 1978 still go to jail for their crimes (this week actually), while in South Africa Apartheid’s generals and...

Monday, March 1st, 2010

God was Afrikaans

Satirist Evita Bezuidenhout breaking down the declining significance of the famous war between the Zulus and the Boers in mid-19th century “as God was looking the other way.”  The Boer victory became part of the...

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Facebook and Apartheid

This piece on nostalgia for the old South Africa among some whites–including among young people born after legal Apartheid ended in 1994–on social network site, Facebook, is genius. It is in Afrikaans.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009


It must be Blackface season. All manner of white people, whether people dressing up for Halloween, Australian TV variety shows, fashion magazines and even French TV programs think it is okay to put on Blackface....

Friday, October 9th, 2009


The Chicago-based literary theorist Walter Ben Michaels has been going on about why we privilege race over class. His right to a point. But that’s it: Race … has been a more successful technology of mystification. In...

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

South Africa: “The whites are pretending it didn’t happen. The blacks are pretending to forgive”

One of the most clearheaded assessments of the new South Africa that I’ve read in a while. It’s a line from an article by The Guardian’s South Africa correspondent, David Smith. It’s what a cynic told him about...

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Trying to be white

This sort of thing is run of the mill in India.

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009


South African cartoonist Jeremy Nell comments on the case of Brandon Huntley, the young white South African, who applied to, and was granted refugee status from the Canadian government because should he return to South Africa, he...

Monday, August 31st, 2009


A white South African who had overstayed his work visa in Canada, applied for refugee status on the grounds that should he return to South Africa, black South Africans would “persecute” him. He was granted refugee status...

Thursday, August 27th, 2009