versión On-line ISSN 2309-9003
versión impresa ISSN 2223-0386
Y&T no.8 Vanderbijlpark dic. 2012
Clive Glaser, The ANC Youth League
The Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) University of the Witwatersrand email@example.com
uDume njengo phuthu1
(Jacana Media, Johannesburg, 2012, ISBN 978 - 1 - 4314 - 0493 - 3, 168 pp, R103)
Clive Glaser offers an engaging, short 'pocket history', which is still thorough and detailed with the complexities of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) organisational history. The ANCYL, synonymous with populist Julius 'Juju' Malema's 'antics', 'the once lean and hungry adolescent became distinctly plump' (pl36) from government tenders, this image has over-shadowed and possibly blemished the history of the ANCYL. Glaser attempts to write a history of the entire lifespan of the ANCYL from its inception in the 1940s until March 2012, using secondary sources and make the book accessible to a non-academic audience. 'Human beings entering inter relations of many different kinds with others, through which they construct meanings and narratives and fashion their identities, writers must recognize multiple narratives, intersecting, and cross-cutting each other, recognizing one 'voice' among others'.2 Glaser uses political biographies beautifully to trek the ANCYL's history.
Through the usage of political characters Glaser affirms that a nation is its people and its people are the organizing forces that bring about change. Each individual be it the ANCYL presidents or background thinkers; provided tangential and vibrant arsenals of characteristic's which shaped the ANCYL. The Transvaal Youth leaguer Potlako Kitchener Leballo through the ex-facia of the pages can be linked to Julius Malema, or rather the other way around, Malema's radicalism can be likened to Lebello's 'instinctive populist rather than an intellectual' (p54) demeanour and ad hominem attacks.
The current Youth League likes to draw comparisons between itself and the generation of Mandela and Co. which founded the movement in the 1940s and effectively seized control of the ANC in 1949 (8) throughout the book Glaser keeps the conclusion, entitled Class of' 44 vs. Class of' 04 apparent and muses on the possible extent of such liberties.
The story of the Congress Youth League begins in the early 1940s, and Glaser marks the election of Dr. Alfred Xuma to the presidency of the ANC in 1940 as representing an important turning point in the life of the movement, as he was a member of the elite, and never related comfortably to the uneducated masses (pp. 14-15). Xuma was pragmatic when it came to cooperation with leftists and non-Africans, and this was the yeast which saw the gradual rise of the Youth league. The ANC felt it was worth working strategically within state-subsidised advisory structures, such as township Advisory Boards and the new NRC. Glaser provides rich detail on the milieu of the era with rapid urbanization and industrialization, coupled with Xuma welcoming African Communists into the ANC, signing the 'Doctors'Pact', co-operating with General Jan Smuts' 'war liberalism' plans and his stance on paternalist 'trusteeship' towards blacks. Glaser argues that all these decisions and debates were germane and pertinent to the formation of the Youth League.
Urbanization brought many black people into Johannesburg's townships, which became 'an extraordinary melting pot of young educated Africans' (p. 20), two of these being Ashby. P. Mda and Anton Lembede, the inspirational figures in the Congress Youth League and the architects of the ANCYL. Mda rejected all vestiges of Smuts' trusteeship and segregation, he felt it was time for Africans to stop cooperating with all government institutions and challenge white power more directly, and his ideas resonated with a number of young educated men in Johannesburg who were frustrated with the slow pace of change (p. 23). Anton Lembede was responsible for the term 'Africanism' which described his brand of nationalism. These and other men sort ways to influence the 'frustratingly staid ANC from within'. In the lead-up to the ANC's December 1943 congress, they met with Xuma to discuss the possibility of forming a youth league in the ANC, although concerned about their militancy, Xuma felt that they could 'bring new energy to the organization and attract an important new constituency'(p. 29). 'The ANCYL, it was made clear, was never to set itself up in opposition to the mother body but rather to change it from within, to help the ANC to represent the African masses more effectively and more robustly' (p. 30). The ANCYL was inspired by mass action, but initially it was not an organization of the masses, members being high school and college students and professionals.
In the build up to the ANC conference in Bloemfontein in 1949 the ANCYL decided to develop a programme of action; they approached Xuma with it and he reacted angrily, the ANCYL approached James Moroka to be their candidate as they had lost faith in Xuma. The Programme of Action was indorsed and Moroka narrowly won the presidency, even though many in the 'old guard dismissed the youngsters as cheeky, irresponsible and impulsive' (p. 12). Between 1949 and 1951 the Youth Leaguers succeeded in transforming the ANC into a more assertive African nationalist movement (p. 41). Although in the 1950s the Youth League stopped criticising the senior body and became a loyal section of the ANC.
With the ANCYL ceasing to exist as from the 1960s with the banning of political parties, chapter four provides a detailed history of the many youth organizations that sprouted. It is in this chapter that Glaser's attempt of writing a whole history of the ANCYL in a pocket book seems a bit grandiose and splinters, 'carrying' the reader awkwardly, a lot of information is offered but it's not tired together well. With the ANC leaders in either exile or prison the Youth League was left to 'peter out' and a plethora of youth organizations sprouted leading into the 1980s which was known as the era of the 'comrade'; SASCO, NUSAS, SAYCO, 'for many activists, SAYCO, was quite simply the Congress Youth League in a new guise' (p. 97). 1991 was the rebirth of the ANCYL, under the leadership of Peter Mokaba, through the years some leadership were more ideologically aligned to the ANC and were calm and in other period's views would differ.
Glaser references William Gumede's description of 'a gravity-defying somersault' (p. 121) to describe the 2009 political events which saw Fikile Mbalula retract support for Thabo Mbeki and rally support for Jacob Zuma. But how influential is the ANCYL, or does it take liberties in calling itself a 'kingmaker'? Glaser argues that its influence is important, but not overwhelming (p. 131). The ANCYL's April 2009 conference where Malema was voted in was characterised by ill discipline, which in many ways Glaser posits, it was befitting. Three years later Malema was expelled from the ANCYL for sowing divisions and bring the party into disrepute (p. 147).
Glaser's concluding notes; Class of' 44 vs. Class of' 04, draws fascinating parallels between these two 'classes', Mda, Lambede and the Youth Leagues success in 1949 with the Youth Leaguers taking 7 of the 15 National Executive Committee positions, whereas in Polokwane the ANCYL simply backed a senior faction that won (p. 155). A contrast in ideologies also exists, the class of '44 believed in Booker T. Washington's idea of 'self-help' as appose to what might now be called 'help yourself' (p. 156), Where Peter Mokaba made his wealth through hair salons, Julius Malema made it through government tenders, 'lift as you rise' has been rendered a red-herring. By in large, Glaser succeeds in his objectives, and has written a book of profound utility for anyone who cares to learn more about the history of the ANCYL.
Fransjohan Pretorius (Red), Geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika: Van voortye tot vandag
Department Geskiedenis Universiteit van die Vrystaat firstname.lastname@example.org
n Meer inklusiewe benadering tot die Geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika
(Tafelberg, Kaapstad, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-624-05466-5, 640 pp, R285)
Nog 'n toevoeging tot die Suid-Afrikaanse geskiedskrywing word gemaak deur die boek Geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika: Van voortye tot vandag, onder die redakteurskap van Prof. Fransjohan Pretorius. Die boek is die gevolg van 'n leemte wat aangespreek is tydens 'n simposium van die Geskiedeniskommissie van die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns in 2006. Tydens die geleentheid is die begeerte uitgespreek vir 'n "omvattende geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika", waar die pendulum meer in die middel is betreffende die geskiedskrywing van Suid-Afrika. Dus, waar die geskiedskrywing meer gebalanseerd is en wegbeweeg van die vroeëre sterk Afrikaner- of blanksentriese benadering na die huidige sterker fokus op swart versetbewegings of die "struggle"-benadering. Kortom: die ambisieuse projek is van stapel gestuur "ter wille van versoening en wedersydse begrip onder die verskillende kulturele en politieke groepe".
As gerekende navorsers is die medeskrywers van hierdie publikasie terdeë bewus daarvan dat totale neutraliteit en objektiwiteit in geskiedskrywing 'n strewe bly en word onomwonde in die inleiding verklaar dat, ten spyte van die ideaal om 'n meer gebalanseerde geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika te boek te stel, hul steeds nie aanspraak maak op volkome objektiwiteit nie. Dit bly egter hul doelwit met die boek om sover moontlik 'n "billike en objektiewe geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika" aan te bied. Vandaar dat die boek diverse sienswyses van bepaalde tydperke aan die leser voorhou. Vergelyk byvoorbeeld, soos tereg aangedui, die verskil in Herman Giliomee en David Scher se interpretasie van die rol wat apartheid by die Nasionale Party-oorwinning in 1948 gespeel het.
Die boek maak, net soos van sy voorlopers betreffende 'n algemene geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika, waaronder Nuwe geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika in woord en beeld onder redaksie van Trewhella Cameron en SB Spies (1986); die Reader's Digest illustrated history of South Africa (1988); en Nuwe geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika onder redaksie van H Giliomee en B Mbenga (2007), gebruik van interdissiplinêre samewerking. Benewens 'n groot groep historici, word kennis ook verkry uit die etno-argeologie (Andrie Meyer), geografie (Barnie Barnard) en politieke veld (Jan-Jan Joubert).
Pretorius met sy groep van 22 Suid-Afrikaanse medeskrywers, is dus hoofsaaklik historici en hierdie groep sluit 'n verskeidenheid van spesialisterreine met diepgaande kennis binne die geskiedeniswetenskap in. Deur gebruik te maak van dié groep historici word grootliks aandag gegee aan die politieke geskiedenis, met inagneming van die ekonomiese -, kerken omgewingsgeskiedenis, asook sekere sosiale faktore van bepaalde tydperke in Suid-Afrika se geskiedenis. Lig word gewerp op hoe verskillende aspekte en gebeure die betrokke bevolkingsgroepe beïnvloed en betrek het. Daar word dus gepoog om die betrokkenheid van alle Suid-Afrikaners binne historiese konteks in ag te neem en te verreken. Hierdeur word die leser bewus gemaak van die invloede wat politieke, ekonomiese en omgewingsdenke en omstandighede op alle bevolkingsgroepe kan uitoefen.
Die titel van die boek reflekteer in die 29 hoofstukke wat Suid-Afrika se verlede omsluit, vanaf die oerverlede (voortye) wat in Hoofstuk 1 weergegee word tot en met Hoofstuk 29, wat fokus op 2011 (vandag). Dit verskaf aan die leser 'n besonderse reis deur die geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika van die vroegste gebeurtenisse tot en met 'n kontemporêre interpretasie van gebeure en uitdagings in die tydperk 2004-2011. Ander hoofstukke verken onder meer die koloniale era, die Groot Trek en Voortrekkers, die minerale revolusie, die ekonomiese ontwikkeling binne Suid-Afrika, die Anglo-Boereoorlog, Afrikanernasionalisme, die vestiging van apartheid en swart verset, vakbonde en arbeid, terwyl klem terselfdertyd op die Afrikaanse kerke en omgewingsfaktore binne Suid-Afrika geplaas word. Derhalwe word'n oorwegend chronologiese benadering in die boek gevolg, terwyl daar terselfdertyd ook bepaalde temas uit die betrokke tydperke aangespreek word. Hoewel daar 'n gemis aan bepaalde temas is, spreek dit vanself dat die reeds lywige publikasie nie alle gebeure kan aanspreek nie.
Die 640 bladsye boek verskaf slegs agt kaarte in swart en wit met ongelukkig geen verdere visuele uitleg soos byvoorbeeld kleurillustrasies en foto's nie. Wat wel interessant is, is die tydlyne wat verskaf word in die eerste hoofstuk, asook die geblokte informasie wat telkens in hoofstukke opduik om bepaalde terme/ konsepte/persone meer beskrywend toe te lig. Die skryfstyl is gemaklik wat die boek verder toeganklik maak. Teen die einde van die boek verskyn 'n lys van die medewerkers met gepaardgaande biografie van elke outeur, asook 'n omvangryke register en uitgebreide bibliografie van elke hoofstuk, wat uiteraard met groot vrug gebruik sal kan word vir verdere naslaanwerk.
Hierdie omvattende geskiedenisboek in Afrikaans is 'n welkome toevoeging en maak 'n waardevolle bydrae tot die historiografie en literatuur oor die algemene geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika. Dit sal nuttig wees vir 'n breë teikengroep wat skoolleerlinge en studente van geskiedenis, onderwysers, dosente, historici en die algemene publiek insluit. Ongelukkig sal die teikengroep lesers beperk wees tot diegene wat Afrikaans verstaan. Om die trefkrag van die boek te verbreed en by te dra tot 'n meer gemeenskaplike geheue, sal dit wenslik wees indien die boek ook in ander tale vertaal kan word. Daarvolgens sal dit meer toeganklik wees vir alle taalgebruikers om sodoende 'n groter leserspubliek bloot te stel aan die meer inklusiewe benadering tot die geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika wat verdere insig en debatvoering kan meebring.
Saul Dubow, South Africa's Struggle for Human Rights
Writer & Human Rights Lawyer Johannesburg email@example.com
No more than a pocket history
(Jacana Media, Johannesburg, 2012, ISBN 978-1-4314-0379-0, R103)
This 10 chapter book on the struggle for human rights in South Africa is a much needed recording of this portion of our history. The writer embarks from the premise that South Africa presents a unique history of human rights from colonialism through Afrikaner nationalism to the final liberation. The second premise he embarks from is that despite the embrace of human rights by both the Afrikaner and the ANC neither of these two groups were historically huge champions of human rights.
The second to fourth chapters' deals with Dutch commercial settlement right through the British annexation of the Cape and the subsequent formation of Boer Republics up until the Anglo Boer War. These chapters focus mainly on voting rights, which was the root of citizen's complaints against the DEIC, British colonial rule and Republican era. The Uitlander question was after all one of voting rights. Besides a reference to the work of Dr John Philips little attention is given to other human rights issues such as the treatment of workers and discriminatory treatment of people of colour. Especially the brutal assault against the human rights of the Khoi and the San is largely ignored. What are also ignored are the human rights of Africans. Not only their treatment by the colonial powers but also their internal systems and its effect on human rights.
Chapters 5 and 6 deals with the formation of the ANC post the creation of Union in 1910 up to the the post Second World War adoption of the UN Charter. Dubow continuously make the point that the ANC was not necessarily the champion of the human rights struggle through the years. In fact the point is made that the ANC were believers of the segregation concept and therefore could not have embraced human rights unqualified.
The arrival of the National Party to power in 1947 was the trigger to many significant developments. The liberation movements were forced to adopt the principle of human rights. This was driven by liberal minded individuals of who most were communists. Even the adoption of the Freedom Charter was not an ANC organized event - hence the reference to the Congress of the People. Dubow makes the point that hard core ANC cadres remained sceptics of the Freedom Charter for at least a decade thereafter.
Chapters 8 and 9 deals with the internationalizing of the anti-apartheid struggle in reaction to the harsh, brutal internal repression. This forced the anti-apartheid movement to move closer to the concept of human rights as the universal currency for revolutionary forces. The assistance of the UN in this regard was important. The internal situation also forced a more clear focus on human rights as the abuses thereof started to surface on a regular basis. It also served the role of cover for anti-apartheid forces such as the Legal Resources Centre and the similar organisations. The adaption of the concept of human rights by the National Party negotiators during the late eighties and nineties also emerges in these chapters.
The final chapter deals with the interim and final constitution, which sees the pinnacle of the ultimate acknowledgment for Human Rights in the South African society.
The book is a pocket history and is no more that. It sums up the development of the road to the ultimate recognition of human rights without offering any new or fresh insights - a project still waiting to be done.
Howard Phillips, Plague, Pox and Pandemics
St Mary's Diocesan School for Girls, Durban firstname.lastname@example.org
Highly recommended to all
(Jacana Media, Johannesburg, 2012, ISBN 978-1-4314-0385-1, R 99)
Plague, Pox and Pandemics: a Jacana Pocket History of Epidemics in South Africa by Howard Phillips examines the five main epidemics that have emerged in South Africa, tracing the years from the early eighteenth century to today's HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Phillips simplifies these five major epidemics that have shaped the lives and histories' of South Africa and each epidemic is dedicated to an individual chapter in the book. They have been chosen due to their large scale devastating effects that they had on South African communities. From the Smallpox outbreak in 1713 to 1893, which almost destroyed the Khoekhoe population; to the Bubonic and Pneumonic plague of 1901 to 1907, which arrived at ports on flea infested rats, first in Cape Town and later Durban; to the Spanish flu which affected South Africa for a short period after World War 1; to Poliomyelitus, from 1918 to 1963, "the middle-class plague" and finally to modern societies' grave medical and health problem of the HIV/ AIDS virus, which has 'resulted in an epidemic of orphanhood and child-headed households' in South African communities.
In the pocket history Phillips brings to the fore the reality that these epidemics and diseases had on the communities within South Africa and its direct effect on the history of South Africa and in shaping South Africa. This is interwoven into the mainstream historical record, including pivotal moments such as, European Colonisation, the Mineral Revolution, The South African War, World War 1, Apartheid and post-Apartheid. The book addresses how disease has dramatically effected South Africa's history and vice versa. The epidemic and disease factor has directly affected the demographics of this country over the centuries.
Phillips acknowledges the lack of research and writing by scholars and academics that has gone into the study of plagues and epidemics, even though these diseases have had a largely noticeable effect on the history of South Africa, its people, and its conflicts. Despite the ravaging effects of the disease at the time, these epidemics have been under recorded and recognised. Herein the book provides a springboard to such a necessary and no doubt fascinating history that is yet to be written.
Chapter One of Plague, Pox and Pandemics, examines the Smallpox outbreak in 1713, which lasted until 1893. Smallpox's survival is addressed as a disease that was dependent on that of human movement and more specifically trade. The disease arrived mostly from Dutch colonies travelling across the Indian Ocean, with the vector being smallpox-infected clothing. This caused outbreaks in areas that had never before been introduced to Smallpox and therefore no immunity had been introduced. Large scale deaths were experienced in the Cape by the Khoekhoe who were first affronted by the 'great sickness' in records dating back to 1658. Whole communities were wiped-out as the disease favoured and thrived on close proximity and crowded areas. This epidemic was one of the first challenges and, subsequently an achievement for biomedicine in South Africa, as the discovery of vaccinations was revealed and eventually distributed in 1789 to Cape Town.
Phillips consistent focus on producing asocial history of epidemics exposes the reader to the larger non-medical related effects of disease in South Africa. Epidemics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries allowed for the 'racialising' and blaming of new diseases on groups of people. Large scale prejudices and superstitions grew amongst communities, with the Khoekhoe, Black and Indian communities often being blamed for such outbreaks and the racial underpinning of 'other' and 'unclean'. This can be seen for both smallpox and the plague.
Furthermore, epidemics caused a clash of culture. In areas where vaccinations were available and encouraged, Muslims among other communities were hesitant to be vaccinated due to the spiritual implication of going against divine will. These advancements in biomedicine posed a threat to societies, who were unsure of the implications of western medicine and religious obligations and cleansing associated practices of their culture. The disease factor produced conflicting solutions for religious, scientific and folklore solutions. These curious social effects of disease are examined further in Plague, Pox and Pandemics, and this allows for a deeper understanding of the complications and multi-layered suffering associated with sickness and scourge, as well as the direct emotional, psychological and social cost to society. On a lighter note, such epidemics and outbreaks paved the way towards modern day health care units, the establishment of a ministry of health, the provision of immunisation and medical officers through the progression of public reform.
Chapters Two to Four examine the Bubonic and Pneumonic Plague, the Spanish flu and Poliomyelitus, and continue with the underlying social theme of the socio effects on the communities on which they effected and changed. The strong racial implications of disease and those affected resulted in deeper problems and scapegoating of groups depicted as 'unclean' by colonials. The plague was often blamed on Africans "with their filthy habits, who brought the disease into the town", regardless of the knowledge that the epidemic had arrived with rats on ships and had slowly spread from these posts to inland areas such as Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg. In some extremes cases entire areas were burnt down. An entire "coolie Location" in Johannesburg was burnt in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease to "white" areas. In addition medical examinations were forced on Africans or Indians who were travelling by rail or sea, and this treatment entrenched the 'racialised' association of disease and sickness. This 'victim blaming' took on 'racial', religious and geographical attitudes involving slave, Khoekhoe, Muslim, migrant worker, Blacks, Whites, Christians, and others as being responsible for the disease outbreaks.
The complicated relationship between epidemics and conquest, prejudice and movement is illustrated in the accounts of almost all the epidemic diseases that are mentioned in Plague, Pox and Pandemics. The final chapter on society's modern day pandemic, HIV/AIDS provides surprising insights into the complexity of the epidemic, and gives the reader a great appreciation of the added perspective that a historian brings to one's epidemiological understanding of disease, illness, and racial stereotyping within societies.
The book makes for a fascinating read and provides insight not only into the diseases themselves, but the socio and macro political responses to these diseases both in a private and public sphere. One is affronted with the crude racial 'pathologising' of diseases and the association of 'clean' and 'unclean', which played out in societies at the time. Phillips undertakes to change the way the reader views the history of South Africa, and this is achieved to a large extent. However, in some instances, the book does not fully engage with a 'grassroots' history of societies affected by disease.
Plague, Pox and Pandemics is recommended to all scholars studying history and the social sciences, as well as the health sciences. It provides a review of epidemic disease and augments our understanding of epidemics, while deepening ones' understanding of human society and the associations that we place on one another both privately and publically.
Johan Wassermann & Angela Bryan (editors), From College to Faculty of Education: Memories of the Edgewood Campus of The University of Kwazulu-Natal
Department of Education University of KwaZulu-Natal Davidsmn@ukzn.ac.za
One history, multiple truths: From educational reproduction to transformation
(Pinetown Printers, Pinetown, 2012, ISBN NO.?, 168 pp, R 100)
The motivation behind this publication was to capture the memories of the Edgewood Campus covering the period since its inception in 1966 as a College of Education, to its present status as university Faculty of Education of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). The publication was launched as part of the year-long celebration of "100 years of academic excellence" in the Kwazulu-Natal region. Today Edgewood, the place, functions as the synergized nucleus of the University of Kwazulu-Natal's Faculty of Education, the product of the mandatory process of incorporations and mergers of higher education institutions in the region.
A mix of twenty six authors from academic staff - past and present, ex-SRC members, students and administrative staff, pieced together more than 40 years of discursive practices, creating a tale of Edgewood. Memories are interwoven with historical events, chronicles, anecdotes, humour and academic arguments. Of great interest are enunciations of the pre-discursive: emotional, provocative, defensive, apologetic, confessionary, disgusted, offended, insulted, disappointed, silent and elated - all lingering prints on the collage. As a commemorative moment, all these authors celebrated in their own style - recalling and forgetting, but hopefully to remind and be remembered. A fair intermix of gendered discourses accentuate different views and perspectives. Ten women's vivid memories are included to make up the cacophony of sounds that tells the story. Two archived speeches, two poems and original architectural sketch added to the sources.
In producing this collage of collective memories, the editors cautioned that "memory work" cannot be equated with "history", but they argue that it is not less rigorous in its undertaking than history writing itself. They acknowledged Maurice Halbwach's notion on space and collective memory that individuals and groups are not alone in remembering, they create their own spatial frameworks and their collective memories become part of an imagined social community. According to Halbwach's, space is cut up in order to compose a fixed framework within which to enclose and retrieve its remembrances. Given the selective and subjective nature of memory, what emerged in this publication is an anthology of memories, encoded in nuanced textual formations, depicting a multi-layered narrative of Edgewood: the imagined community. Memories espoused contradictory, affirmative and silent discourses confirming Edgewood as a work in progress. Collective memories also diminish the delusion of a singular truth or a grand narrative of Edgewood.
Chapters were arranged in an overlapping timeline, allowing for intersection of counter memories and inter- generational reflections. The story predates the first turning of the sod, to the present - roughly from 1966 to 2010, with a trajectory of the physical and intellectual space still to grow. This period coincided with apartheid engineering program of the National Party and establishment of the new democratic South Africa - post 1994. The earlier chapters of the book mainly tell the story of the liberal (White) Edgewood, but the emergence of a countervailing discourse appeared later - a discourse engrossed with the urgency of reconceptualization, innovation and transformation.
Although not written to deal with any particular scholarly agenda the authors' memories often overlapped discursively. Reading the book inter-textually reveals, often serendipitously, memories which are confirmatory as well as contradictory. What flows is a continuation and (re)membering of the major themes in apartheid education: Liberalism, politics and education, Christian National Education (CNE), reproduction and reform, racism and sexism and educational transformation. Below are some excerpts from the text to highlight the plurality of views on some of these common themes:
On the liberal discourse and its contested nature: "...Edgewood was profoundly influenced by "Liberalism" - "by liberalism I mean ... a generosity spirit, a tolerance of others, an attempt to comprehend otherness." (p. 54). "... the staff and students were relentless in their fight against apartheid" (p. 67). These quotations can be compared with the following: "Amongst the academic staff as a whole there was a range of political opinion from right to left ..." (p. 91) and "There were some of the staff of a more radical bent ... who were critical of his [le Roux's] Liberalism ..." ( p. 91). Liberal reformism became exposed as out of touch with the demands of a nation in transformation. Apolitical
On politics and education at Edgewood, the following extracts inform: "We believed that in the context of apartheid the pursuit of a Liberal education might well produce an epidemic of freedom in a closed society" (p. 66) and ". these occasions [assemblies] had a strong Christian bias with communal prayer and a college choir ." (p. 32) and "Underpinning this philosophy [of non-racialism] is a firm commitment to maintain standards of excellence, to retain our Christian ethos and our English Liberal tradition" (p. 38). In contradiction to the above: "... Edgewood at this time was a - political and for the most part very politically unaware" (p. 100). Edgewood politics was of a mix kind. Some lecturers even used radical educational materials (Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed) at a time when Fundamental Pedagogics prevailed at most Colleges of Education.
The struggle against racism and sexism are major social justice projects today. The earlier book chapters often masked the racist and sexist discourse at Edgewood. In the latter chapters, frank and direct instances are cited. As material beneficiaries of apartheid, Edgewood came a bit late in redressing political injustices. Initially, the political acquiescence made Edgewood an ordinary apartheid institution. There was nothing 'extraordinary' in the way Edgewood's handled the politics of education during apartheid years. The following references to racism are worth noting: "While the majority of staff had no qualms with this [Black dean at predominantly White college], there were few who did not find it amusing ..." (p. 134). Various experiences of ukubakaza (uncomfortable feelings, subtle racism) instances are recalled (pp. 140-147) such as "The arising of the Coloured students' organization ..."it is racist" (p. 120) and ".the idea that all Black students should vote for the Black candidates contesting the election, regardless of competence" (p. 160).
Due to the dominance of race as an organizing criterion in the social stratification of South African society, it cannot be ignored as an important issue in contemporary South Africa. Crain Soudien in his piece "Apartheid and education: coping with difference in South Africa" published in the Southern African Review of Education, asserted for instance, that white and black, schooling and racialization have assisted in the entrenchment of fixed and incontestable meaning (1995, p. 79). Late in the book the recognition of racism leads to some transformation: "Whiteness, that is apartheid Whiteness, and its attendant racialization and racism was infused into the very fabric of the institution and caught you in every corner and turn" (p. 181). The agency to confront racism became "a part of the continuous struggle to repair and overcome the damage of a racialised and gendered life history, both my own and those I reflect on" (p. 180).
The discourse of gender inequality appears euphemistically in the metaphorical notion of Edgewood as a "family". By invoking Edgewood as a "family" with a pater familias at its head, normative gender inequalities were reproduced. With the incorporation of "other" staff and students, the Edgewood "family" became dysfunctional in need of "therapy". The "family" just disappeared in the last chapters of the book. When the first female Dean of Education was appointed in 2005, the senior leadership of the Faculty happened to be a "Black leadership" but still mainly a "White Faculty" (p. 180). Institutional transformation was facilitated by the discursive framework of the UKZN's mission statement to be "the premier university of African scholarship" which needed "to heal the divisions of our nation's past, bridges racism and cultural diversity, and lay foundations for a university that is united in its diversity". At Edgewood the establishment of a research identity became a necessary hurdle for transformation as it essentially defines the difference between the new Faculty of Education and the old College of Education. At the level of infrastructure, new policies and procedures were created. These practices marked the journey towards fairness, equity and reflective of a university environment (p. 1810.
As a public discourse on memory this publication supports the argument that memory construction and all social stories are told from the vantage position of the author. The conversation will remain open as voices of new and the old, the past and present engage to express themselves. For me, a newcomer to the Edgewood Campus of UKZN and the region, irking to familiarize the unfamiliar, this book opened many conversations. It also stimulated further curiosity and inquiry. For higher education specialists and historians, it is also a case of how policy implementation and mediation on a micro level occurred. Above all, the book should become a sough after memorabilia to the many who value Edgewood as an institution worthwhile remembering.
1 An isiZulu saying which means, "As widely known as maize meal pap is to the masses."
2 C. Rassool, "Rethinking Documentary History and South African Political Biography", South African Review of Sociology, 41(1), 2010, p. 47. [ Links ]