The month of August came and went explosively in South Africa, with 34 striking miners killed in a hail of police bullets. Ten more have died in the protracted strike (2 police, 2 security guards, and an additional 6 mineworkers).
While the Africa is a Country collective was officially on vacation, we tweeted extensively about the Marikana Massacre, and published some analysis in traditional media. Sean Jacobs and contributor Daniel Magaziner argued in ‘The End of South African Exceptionalism’ (in The Atlantic Magazine) that
the lessons [of Marikana] are not so much about fulfilling the promise of post-apartheid as they are the less particular but even more daunting challenges of poverty and inequality, those faced by the entire international community… Rather than judge South Africa in the wake of this 21st century Sharpeville, the rest of the world ought to ask what kind of community post-apartheid South Africa has joined.
AIAC contributor, Jonathan Faull, reflected on the uncanny coincidence of the ongoing Lonmin strike with the 25th anniversary of the 1987 National Union of Mineworkers strike, in ‘A World Upside Down’ (in the Mail & Guardian):
the killing at Marikana must serve as a catalyst for re-examining what constitutes “leadership” in South Africa’s business community, and the relationships between elites forged so quickly in the name of “transforming” South Africa’s economy.
Also engaging with South Africa’s past, Lily Saint published an article in Social Dynamics on “Reading subjects: passbooks, literature and apartheid”, in which she argues that
despite passbooks’ unparalleled control over South Africans’ everyday lives [under Apartheid], passbooks failed to mould all life stories into the rigid forms promulgated by apartheid doxa. Counter-narratives in black and ‘coloured’ writing of the period provide a useful framework for re-evaluating the role of reading and writing in the production of power. As interventions in the apartheid state’s monopoly of public discourse, such writing insisted that there be alternative ways of writing the apartheid subject into the archive. (Full article.)
Our collective thoughts and condolences go out to the families of all the 44 dead at Marikana. A tragic, and entirely avoidable, chain of events.