Long Read | Home and exile, freedom and loss

Thursday, 6 January 2022 — New Frame

Mandla Langa and Mphuthumi Ntabeni’s new novels, The Lost Language of the Soul and The Wanderers, intersect in their reflections on the lives of Umkhonto weSizwe freedom fighters.

(Photograph by Thabang Malatji)

Novelist, poet and short story writer Mandla Langa’s latest book, The Lost Language of the Soul, is a coming-of-age tale set largely in Zambia and apartheid South Africa in the late 1980s. The novel chronicles the odyssey of Joseph Mabaso, the son of an Umkhonto weSizwe soldier who goes in search of his mother after her sudden disappearance from their home in Lusaka. The search takes Langa’s teenage protagonist through various towns and borders until he ends up in South Africa.

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Love on Fire

13 December 2021

When I read this poem by Dimakatso Sedite, it just blew me away, so much so that I’ve given it a page all on its own! To my mind, this is what poetry is all about. I think I’m in love with Dimakatso. B

LOVE ON FIRE by Dimakatso Sedite

I love Adhip, mama, his hair drips of Maghreb sands.
I’m happiness on fire. My madness is trapped on his tongue.
He does not break me like bread or fling me open like scissors.
His chest — a cocoon of hairs — not that stone that sawed my bones,
Not slippery like Galela’s gumboots.
My eyes claw on him as if sesame seeds on a bunny chow.
My love sweats the kind of madness you smell
In dogs on the run;

‘My child, when you love in seconds like that,
your heart will be charcoal within an hour,
twisting in the oven to die like soot,
like boulder Galela who got weary of the yellow
you burnt on his chest. Fires like yours flare
up everywhere, in these shacks,
in Adchip’s Atchar, in men so icy they slide
to the next house with rods writhing
bleeding feelings like yours.
Your blasted heart
will hover over pages of this township
like the hunger we breathe to fill our guts.’

Taken from: Yellow Shade by Dimakatso Sedite, Deep South Publishing

Buy the book here (for South Africans) and here for everyone else

The bleak shelter of Yellow Shade

11 December 2021 — The Mail&Guardian

Off-kilter: Sam Nhlengethwa’s My Grandmother’s Kitchen in the 60’s

The asymmetrical chair and the table cloth sitting skew in the Sam Nhlengethwa lithograph (My Grandmother’s Kitchen in the 60’s) on the cover of Yellow Shade (Deep South) are apt metaphors for how Dimakatso Sedite represents black life. Scenes are off-kilter and co-ordinates are out of place. Her poems are set in townships — the post-apocalyptic townships of the present — with her imagery giving a vertiginous sense of what it feels like to be trapped in the continuum of apartheid.

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Go to hell, Shell

26 November 2021 — New Frame

The explosion of rage in South Africa in response to the multinational company exploring for oil and gas in the ocean off the Wild Coast is entirely justified.

The corporate drive for profit frequently takes the form of a psychopathic monomania. But among the many horsemen of the corporate apocalypse, Royal Dutch Shell has a particular record of infamy.

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South Africa: Trouble in the promised land

8 November 2021 — New Frame

The socialist commune Abahlali baseMjondolo built from the eKhenana land occupation in Durban has won international admiration and solidarity, but it now faces a new wave of repression.

28 October 2021: Abahlali baseMjondolo deputy president Mqapheli Bonono walks past the Thuli Ndlovu community hall in eKhenana, Durban.

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South Africa: All of them must go!

29 October 2021 — Origin: New Frame

Monday’s elections offer scant hope for a way out of our escalating crisis. Reality demands a rigorous pessimism of the intellect if we are to generate a viable optimism of the will.


It seems likely that the elections on Monday will bring significant change to how many of our cities are ruled. All the surveys show that millions of South Africans hold local government in contempt, that a significant number of former ANC supporters will not be able to bring themselves to vote for a party that is now rotten from the bottom to the top, and that there will be a sharp decline in turnout.

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Where Flowers Find No Peace Enough to Grow: The Thirty-Eighth Newsletter (2021)

23 September 2021 — Tricontinental

George Pamba South Africa New Brighton Port Elizabeth 1977 2Milwa Mnyaluza ‘George’ Pemba (South Africa), New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, 1977.

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute of Social Research.

On 13 July 2021, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopteda landmark resolution on the prevalence of racism and for the creation of an independent mechanism made up of three experts to investigate the root cause of deeply embedded racism and intolerance. The Group of African States pushed for this resolution, which had emerged out of global anger over the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police on 25 May 2020. The discussions in the UNHRC considered the problems of police brutality and went back to the formation of our modern system in the crucible of slavery and colonialism. A number of Western countries – such as the United States and the United Kingdom – hesitated over both the assessment of the past and the question of reparations; these governments were able to remove the requirement to investigate systematic racism in US law enforcement.

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Likely Assassination of UN Chief by US, British and South African Intelligence Happened 60 Years Ago Today

18 September 2021 — Consortium News

New evidence over the past decade has led to a UN probe into the probable assassination of the second UN chief, but U.S., British and South African intelligence are rebuffing UN demands to declassify files to get at the truth.

Dag Hammarskjöld arrived in Katanga for talks with Katanga authorities and Belgian representatives about withdrawal of Belgian troops and the deployment of the UN Force. At Elisabethville airport prior to his return in Leopoldville. Aug. 14, 1960. (UN Photo)

Former President Harry Truman told reporters two days after Dag Hammarskjöld’s death on Sept. 18, 1961 that the U.N. secretary-general  “was on the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said ‘when they killed him.’”

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South Africa: Not even the dead

17 September 2021 — New Frame

Our history of violence accumulates into the present as time slips by, and taints the future too. There must be decisive action against all political murders, old and new alike.

South Africa is one of the most violent countries on the planet. We have the highest rate of rape recorded anywhere in the world. The murder rate here is the 10th highest in the world, as is the rate of suicide.

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Marikana: The Struggle for Breath and Dignity

26 August 2021 —  Internationalist 360°

Bonile Bam

31 July 2021: Former mine employee Bongani Mpofu says life in Marikana is hard for its impoverished residents. (Photographs by Bonile Bam)

The Marikana area in North West province may be rich in platinum group metals, but the profits from mining them do not benefit residents, who have little hope of improving their lives.

“We are dying slowly in Marikana,” says Bongani Mpofu, 31, who lives in the North West province mining town’s Maditlokwa shack settlement. “The carbon monoxide that comes from underground by way of ventilators that are positioned in the veld blows in the direction of the community.

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South Africa: The dangerous collapse of non-racialism

30 July 2021 — New Frame

Transcending the colonial fabrication of race is a radical idea. Now, as opportunists whip up hatred, South Africa needs to restore this emancipatory horizon.

15 April 2017: A mural by Faith 47 of anti-apartheid activists and proponents of non-racialism: from left, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Zainunnisa Gool and Iman Haron. (Photograph by Frédéric Soltan/ Corbis via Getty Images)

The death toll in the recent riots and the campaign of sabotage that accompanied them is now said to be at more than 330. National attention has overwhelmingly focused on Phoenix, the largely Indian and working-class township in Durban where 16 deaths have now been recorded. This has generated considerable focus on the relationships between Indian and African people.

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Johannesburg in decay

11 June 2021 — New Frame

South Africa’s largest city is a world city, the home of jazz, art, politics and insurgent popular aspirations. But it is in precipitous decline, making now the time to act.

“What’s the word Johannesburg?” Gil Scott-Heron asked in 1975. An answer came the following year when children in Soweto ran into fascist bullets, their hearts full of courage and resolve to overcome oppression.

Johannesburg – Joburg, Jozi, eGoli, eRhawutini, Gauteng, Maboneng – is a city of gold, lights, barbed wire, jazz, the sun setting into lava, the burnt orange of aloes in flower against dry grass, a great university, men with guns, shopping malls, the sudden malachite of parakeets on the wing above the city forest and the smoke from the braziers hanging low in the shack settlements when winter bites. Its paths are strewn with lumps of quartz, its rivers and rain poisoned and its jacarandas overwhelmingly beautiful in October.

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Leader of shack-dwellers’ movement arrested by South African police for ‘conspiracy’ to murder

7 May, 2021 — Peoples Dispatch

George Mqapheli Bonono, the deputy president of Abahlali baseMjondolo, was arrested on May 4. The movement maintains that it is a politically motivated attempt by the police to discredit the organization at the behest of the ruling ANC

George Mqapheli Bonono addressing the AbM’s heritage week celebration in 2019. Photo : New Frame

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EXPLAINER: What does the new policing bill say about restricting protests?

13 April 2021 — NetPol

Protester arrested during Extinction Rebellion protests in London, October 2019PHOTO: Splento

Since the confrontational crackdown by the Metropolitan Police on women holding a vigil for Sarah Everard at Clapham Common on 13 March, a growing movement has condemned police intolerance to the right to protest and warned this will only become worse with the passing of the government’s 307 page Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

So what exactly does the bill propose?
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South African movement adopts Climate Justice Charter

2 September 2020 — Climate & Capitalism

Movement Building


Click image to download Charter (pdf)

“As Africans, we live together on a vast and beautiful continent where the human story began. All of us are linked to the first human who walked upright, dreamed, thought and co-existed with plants, animals, rivers, oceans and forests. Today this common humanity and its future is in serious danger. South Africa cannot ignore this challenge. The continued use of oil, gas and coal to power our economy and society is making our world unlivable for all life.”

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