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People Resisting Xenophobic Violence: Understanding popular political responses to the South African identitarian crisis
The book is concerned with popular responses to the crisis of xenophobic violence in South Africa. It argues, that xenophobia itself is not primarily a reaction to poverty, inequality, or any other set of social conditions. Rather, xenophobia must be considered to be a collective political discourse which has arisen in post-apartheid South Africa from an exclusionary conception of state nationalism. Where this work may be distinguished from the majority of research on xenophobia in South Africa is in the fact that its particular focus is on instances where ‘ordinary’ South Africans have challenged and resisted xenophobic violence in their communities through collective political mobilisation. I suggest that these sites of resistance deserve careful consideration in their own right. I argue that they may demonstrate a subjective break with the oppressive politics of state nationalism through the affirmation of alternative political conceptions. Drawing on the political theory of Sylvain Lazarus, and his principal thesis that people are capable of thinking politics in ways which can subjectively think beyond the social and the extant (underscored by his political and methodological axiom, people think), the book will argue that these sites of resistance show that people – and especially those who are considered to be marginalised from the domain of legitimate politics – can and do think politically, and it is in the thought of people that new and potentially emancipatory visions of politics may emerge.
The first chapter of the book sets out empirically the rise of xenophobia in post-apartheid South Africa, with a focus on the ways in which state politics and practices have produced a hegemonic xenophobic discourse in the country. Chapter Two situates this discussion within a review of the academic literature, arguing that sociological explanations are by themselves unable to account for the phenomenon.
Chapter Three discusses three sites in which xenophobia has been effectively contested through collective political mobilisation: by Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM) in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Merafong Demarcation Forum (MDF) in Guateng in 2008, and in the Unemployed people’s Movement (UPM) in Grahamstown (now Makhanda) in 2015 (where I conducted fieldwork over a year). It is argued that the presence of collective political organisation before the outbreak of xenophobic violence provided the conditions for an effective challenge to xenophobic politics to occur.
Chapter Four is largely theoretical, drawing primarily on the work of Sylvain Lazarus, as well as Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière. The chapter argues that it is essential to insist on politics as subjective, as it is only in the thought of people that emancipatory modes of politics which exceed socially located interests may emerge and be constituted through collective mobilisation into political praxis.
Chapter Five sets out the methodological approach to my own research with members of the Unemployed People’s Movement in Grahamstown. The aim of the approach is to aid in the investigation of what Sylvain Lazarus has called ‘subjective singularities’, or specific forms of thinking which characterize a political sequence. Put simply, the approach endeavours to try to understand people’s thinking on its own terms, through the categories and idioms which are specific to that subjective singularity, and which cannot be sociologically reduced to external explanatory referents such as class, race, power, or identity. The aim is to be able to identify and elucidate the specific prescriptive thought which may emerge as people think and articulate their own struggles.
Chapter Six sets out my discussions with 18 UPM activists. Based on the methodological approach indicated above, the purpose of this empirical chapter was not to provide any form of ethnography or sociology of the movement, but to try and elucidate, through the activists’ own categories, the subjective singularity which underpinned the movement’s anti-xenophobic politics during a particular sequence. The aim is not to extrapolate from the activists’ statements concepts, cases or types which might have broader application for the study of xenophobia generally, but only to try to understand and elucidate the forms of thinking which characterised this particular sequence in its subjective singularity. These forms of thinking, I argue, are notable and important in their own right.
[Note: Additional material from the interviews with the UPM members, which I was not able to include in the MA thesis, will be incorporated into the book manuscript to extend and develop the investigation into the political thinking of UPM members and to delineate the character of the political sequence].
The corona crisis reveals what is wrong and toxic — in ourselves, in relation with others, and in relation with the rest of non-human nature. But we can also look for what is good and life-affirming. The authors argue that the future must be founded on ‘kindness, social solidarity and an appropriate scale of time’, a future that cherishes life and the connections that transcend borders. This pamphlet is a vital contribution to much needed reflections and discussion.
This is a fabulous book. Usually a blurb or endorsement like this is supposed to enhance the book, but in this case the flow is in the other direction. For me it is a huge honour to be associated with it. Like many others, I have been trying for months to get my head around what is happening, trying to formulate my ideas, and then here it is, in these pages, so clear, so understanding, so challenging. How we now go on to shape the interconnectedness between people and between people and other forms of life will determine the future of humanity. The best, most sensitive, most realistic, strongest thing that I’ve read on the Corona Crisis. — John Holloway, Professor, Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, Autonomous University of Puebla, Mexico, and author of In, Against, and Beyond Capitalism:
The San Francisco Lectures
This pamphlet, part of Daraja Press’s Thinking Freedom Series, is written by Mark Butler with his colleagues at the Church Land Programme, a small independent non-profit organisation based in KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, that seek to distill learnings that emerge from the work of militants on the ground.
It has only been in recent years that there has been some recognition of the role played by the Land and Freedom Army, dubbed by the British as the ‘Mau Mau’ in the achievement of political independence of Kenya. For many years, the history of the Mau Mau has been presented in the colonial narrative as a murderous and terrorist group of bestial atavism. But what was their role in the struggle for colonial freedom? How did they organise, what were their influences and how did they manage to achieve so much against such overwhelming odds? There have been numerous books written about the Mau Mau, but few have sought to give voice to those who were directly involved in the struggles of the movement.
By far the most important of these is Mau Mau from Within: Autobiography and Analysis of Kenya’s Peasant Revolt by Donald L Barnett and Karari Njama, first published by Monthly Review Press (New York) in 1968.
Mau Mau from Within is a story told by Karari Njama, a school teacher who was directly involved in the struggles for freedom from colonial rule, which was brought together by anthropologist Donald Barnett. As the late Basil Davidson put it: “Njama writes of the forest leaders’ efforts to overcome dissension, to evolve effective tactics, to keep discipline (including sexual discipline) and mete out justice … and to teach men how to survive in those merciless forests. His narrative is crowded with excitement. Those who know much of Africa and those who know little will alike find it compulsive reading. Some 10,000 Africans died fighting in those years . Here, in the harsh detail of everyday experience, are the reasons why.”
This unique book has been out of print since the 1970s. No other book published since that time has managed to capture so vividly and candidly the immense sacrifice and courage of those who fought for Kenya’s freedom. It tells a story that is essential for younger generations to reflect on in their struggles for justice and dignity today.
It is a particularly valuable supplement to the Kenya Human Rights Commission’s (KHRC) amazing and superbly executed struggle in 2011 to extract not only an apology from the British Government for the atrocities it committed on Kenya’s freedom fighters; but even compensation, paltry as it was, for these egregious wrongs. Never before, or since, has Britain accepted its liabilities to the many colonies it once ruled over. The brave senior Mau Mau veterans who travelled to London to fight for the recognition of ‘Mau Mau’ will be gratified to read this story, which is their story, told by one of their own. The Mau Mau War Memorial at the Freedom corner in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park and Mau Mau from Within are landmarks in the memorialisation project of the KHRC.
Daraja Press (https://darajapress.com) has been in touch with the estate of the late Donald Barnett and has been granted rights to publish a new edition of the book. The book will contain additional commentary from Ngugi wa Thiongo, Professor Micere Githae Mugo, Gitu wa Kahengeri (Secretary General of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association) and others that will help the modern reader understand the context of the narrative and to reflect on their relevance. Monthly Review Press have expressed an interest in collaborating in the production of a US edition, and AwaaZ intends to publish an East African edition.
There has been a rise in the use of strategic litigation related to seeking equality for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) persons. Such developments are taking place against the backdrop of active homophobia in Africa. The law and the general public should, argues the author, treat LGB persons in the same way that heterosexuals are treated. In the past two decades,30 strategic cases have been ﬁ led by LGB activists in the Common Law African countries, namely in Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. While the majority of the cases have been successful, they have not resulted in signiﬁcant social change in any of the countries. On the contrary, there have been active backlashes, counter-mobilisations, and violence against LGB persons, as well as the further criminalisation of same-sex relations and constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriages in some of the jurisdictions. The author argues that activists in Common Law Africa have to design LGB strategic litigation in such a way as to ﬁ t within the actual social and political conditions in their countries if strategic litigation is to spur social change.
Adrian Jjuuko is an exceptional scholar. A rare combination of intellectual brilliance, commitment and hard work. The book is born of this. It reflects his incisive analytical skills, anchored in solid knowledge of the law and jurisprudential developments in the field. His ventures into political theory, philosophy, and the social sciences give the analysis additional clarity and empirical grounding.
—Siri Gloppen, Norwegian political scientist, professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen and Director of the CMI-UiB Center on Law and Social Transformation.
Adrian Jjuuko’s meticulously researched examination of the use of strategic litigation not only celebrates the many victories which have been realized in a range of African courts of law, it also reviews and critiques the losses. He demonstrates that the law can be both an effective tool for liberation, just as it can consolidate minority oppression, gender injustice and sexual tyranny. This book is a deeply engaging and highly recommended text for those interested in shaping the evolving rights and struggles of sexual minorities on the continent for decades to come.
— J. Oloka-Onyango, Professor of Law Makerere University School of Law
Pius Adesanmi died in the doomed Ethiopian Airline flight 302 on March 10, 2019. Wreaths for a Wayfarer: An Anthology in Honour of Pius Adesanmi is an assemblage of 267 original poems written by 127 established and emerging African writers. While some of the poets celebrate Adesanmi, others reflect philosophically on existence, mortality, immortality and/or offer hope for the living. In this memorably textured collection, the poets – some who knew, and some who did not know Adesanmi – exorcise the pains of loss through provocative poems that pour out their beating hearts with passion.
Chris Dunton, editor of Wasafiri, writes:
“… Adesanmi’s passing has been commemorated in a superb anthology of commissioned poems, Wreaths for a Wayfarer. This beautifully produced volume contains the work of 126 contributors, mainly from Nigeria, but also from other countries, ranging from Mexico, through the UK, to Sri Lanka; as Odia Ofeimun puts it in his foreword: ‘Pius Adesanmi was ‘my personal person’, as he was to so many people around the globe’ (xxv). It also includes a selection of poems from Adesanmi’s own collection The Wayfarer.
“Nduka Otiono’s Introduction to the anthology is a model of its kind, eloquent, heartfelt and informative, with a great deal of valuable background material in footnotes. An especially pleasing touch, so much in the spirit of Adesanmi the dedicated mentor, is the editors’ decision to take on ‘budding poets . . . [a decision which] necessitated editing and working with such authors to help develop writings that might otherwise have been rejected’ (7). A little later, Nduka comments: ‘we conceptualized an anthology that will be enduring in its thematic range and stylistic variety. And we got one’ (8). …”
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements |Foreword—Odia Ofeimun | Introduction: Death and an African Digital Towncrier—Nduka Otiono | Introit: Coffin in the sky—Niyi Osundare
Part I. WAYFARER
Scabha or The Sliding Door Operator—Sihle Ntuli | When an Iroko Falls—Iquo Diana Abasi | How to Survive War in Nigeria—Iquo Diana Abasi | I Wet the Earth, I Sing You Wreaths… —Fareed Agyakwah | Harvest IV—Funmi Aluko | Wayfarer—Funmi Aluko | The Wayfarer—Saudat Salawudeen | End of Forever—Saudat Salawudeen | Muse of Homecoming—Justus K. S. Makokha | Encore— Agatha Agema | Now that I know young birds die in flight—Segun Michael Olabode | The Water-Pot is Broke—Susan Bukky Badeji | from absence, memory and farther—Obemata | Umbilicals—Tijah Bolton-Akpan | The Pilgrim Unbound—Clara Ijeoma Osuji | Eclipsed at Noon—Abdulaziz Abdulaziz | To the Daughters— Abdulaziz Abdulaziz | The Traveler—Abiodun Bello | For the Wayfarer—Chifwanti Zulu | The Acts of Brother—’Bunmi Ogungbe | Backing His Daughter: For Pius, on Facebook—Jane Bryce | Avoiding Sunlight—Unoma Azuah | Akáṣọléri ́ (Mourners) —Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún | Last Tweets—Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún | Farewell, Wayfarer—Oyinkansade Fabikun | Solitaire—Kafilat Oloyede | How to Keep the Wake for a Shooting Star—Chuma Nwokolo | Eagle—Uzo Odonwodo | In Memoriam—Uzo Odonwodo | Can You Do This Thing?—Sarah Katz-Lavigne | Lights—John Chizoba Vincent | The Meteorite—Omowumi Olabode Steven Ekundayo | Black Box—Ian Keteku | Paramour of the Pen—Abraham Tor | Flying Coffin—James Onyebụchi Nnaji | Looking for the Dead—James Onyebụchi Nnaji | The Eagle Perched—Moses Ogunleye | A Pius Flight—Kennedy Emetulu | Kwanza for Pius—Ifesinachi Nwadike | Dream-mare—Nidhal Chami | A Walk in the Graveyard—Chimeziri C. Ogbedeto | Payo—Biko Agozino | Iku—Peter Olamakinde Olapegba | He left—Amatoritsero Ede | Spousal Loss—Peter Olamakinde Olapegba | The Face of My Savior is the Ordinary Moment—Gloria Nwizu | Denouement—Gloria Nwizu | A Conversation between Two Young Cousins—Ethel Ngozi Okeke | Sunday Flight—Emman Usman Shehu | Departure—Ivor Agyeman-Duah | The Count—Uthpala Dishani Senaratne | Rude Shock—Olajide Salawu | Saturday 12:56—Ludwidzi M. K. Mainza | Daughter—Ludwidzi M. K. Mainza | Tough Love—Nnorom Azuonye | In the Midst of it All, I am…—Anushya Ramakrishna | Haiku – Ai-Ku (Immortality) —Adesanya Adewale Adeshina | He Rose—Adesanya Adewale Adeshina | A Singing Bird—Adesanya Adewale Adeshina | Arrivant—Akua Lezli Hope | EarthWork Sestina—Akua Lezli Hope | Animalia, Chordata, Mammalia, Proboscidea—Akua Lezli Hope | Poem of Relief: When Your Sadness is Alive—Kennedy Hussein Aliu | If I Seek—Kennedy Hussein Aliu | When You Ask me About my Teacher—Kennedy Hussein Aliu and Leyda Jocelyn Estrada Arellano | The Eagle is not the Quills and Talons—Olumide Olaniyan | without a farewell—Nduka Otiono | After the Funeral—Nduka Otiono | Fugitives from the Violence of Truth—Efe Paul-Azino | Just but a Journey—Sam Dennis Otieno
Part II. REQUIEMS
Elegy for Pius—Helon Habila | This Exodus Has Birthed a Song—Echezonachukwu Nduka | where to find you: a requiem—Echezonachukwu Nduka | Blown—Richard Inya | words melt in his mouth—Peter Midgley | Requiem for the Fallen / Mogaka o ole—Lebogang Disele | To Our Hero: Rest in Peace—Lebogang Disele | What Shall We Do to Death?—Winlade Israel | A Star Just Fell—Winlade Israel | Requiem—Peter Akinlabi | Requiem for Pius—Rasaq Malik Gbolahan | Wayfarer—Rasaq Malik Gbolahan | Twirling the Beads of Grief… —Tade Aina | Say me Rebellion—Kingsley L. Madueke | When this Calabash Breaks—Kingsley L. Madueke | Requiem for the Wayfarer—Adesina Ajala | Song of Sorrow—Soji Cole | Planting Season—Anote Ajeluorou | For Our Departed Bard—Maria Ajima | Memory of Tear—Joshua Agbo | Why? —Margaret Wairimu Waweru | Letter to Dad—Margaret Wairimu Waweru | Missing Voices—Ugochukwu P. Nwafor | Tears on Canvas—Wesley Macheso | Nausea—Wesley Macheso | This Easter—Wesley Macheso | When I Am Gone—Maryam Ali Ali | Nothing Has Changed—Maryam Ali Ali | Protest—Ejiofor Ugwu | Our Voice is Gone—Janet James Ibukun | Agadaga Iroko / Giant Iroko—Sunny Iyke U. Okeigwe | This Poetry—James Tar Tsaaior | The Passing of Pius—Uzor Maxim Uzoatu | Light Dims to Shine Forever—Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo | You Bled Africa! —Mitterand Okorie | To the Muse of Isanlu: A Salute—’BioDun J. Ogundayo | you remain with us—Nkateko Masinga | A Bit of Narcissism—Okwudili Nebeolisa | Bereavement—Okwudili Nebeolisa | Dirge for the Departed—Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa | If Only—Femi Abidogun | Falling Birds—Yusuff Abdulbasit | Immortality—Yusuff Abdulbasit | Harvest of Deaths—Yemi Atanda | The Horse and the Tortoise—Yemi Atanda | The Chorus Is Death—Ubaka Ogbogu | Breaking Bread—Obiwu | Still They Hunt for Emmett Till—Obiwu | on wisdom’s wings—Jumoke Verissimo
Part III. HOMECOMING
The Indent (For Pius) —Uche Nduka | when the sun sets—Adejumo Uthman Ajibola | Aridunun Akowe—Dahunsi Ayobami | Pius: Myth, Mystic, Mystery—Tenibegi Karounwi | Returning the Light as Wreath—Ndubuisi Martins (Aniemeka) | Naija is a Badly-Behaved Poem—Ndubuisi Martins (Aniemeka) | Confessions of a Gypsy—Richard Kayode O. James | When the Pious Die—Uchenna-Franklin Ekweremadu | Song of the Pilgrim—Obinna Chukwudi Ibezim | Pius, the Seed—Celina O. Aju-Ameh | Cloud Coffin—Tola Ijalusi | Letter to My Father—Ololade Akinlabi Ige | I Journey Quietly Home—Martin Ijir | Hopeful People—Ndaba Siban | Explaining My Depression to You—Yusuf Taslemat Taiwo | The Broken Quill—Nathanael Tanko Noah | we do not know how to carry this pain—Edaki Timothy. O | Stars, Out—S. Su’eddie Vershima Agema | Converging Skies and Shadows—S. Su’eddie Vershima Agema | Will You? —Biodun Bamgboye | Farewell—Maryam Gatawa | Transit to Kenya—Anthony Enyone Ohiemi | Abiku Agba—Usman Oladipo Akanbi | Evening Bird—Bayowa Ayomide Micheal | Withered Green—Augustine Ogechukwu Nwulia | Home Call…047—Onuchi Mark Onoruoiza | Outshining the Stars—Onuchi Mark Onoruoiza | The Eagle Has Fallen—Manasseh Gowk | Farewell—Manasseh Gowk | Death—Khalid Imam | The Flood—Khalid Imam | Blue Skies—Yejide Kilanko | This Very Goodbye—Nseabasi S. J. King | The Deserted Road or Elegy for Pius Adesanmi—Daniel Olaoluwa Whyte | What My Father Said on His Death Bed—Gbenga Adesina | Wayfarer—James Yeku | One Meets Two—James Yeku | First Goodbye—D.M. Aderibigbe | Monster—Afam Akeh | where you are now—Raphael d’Abdon | When the Curtains Fall—Uchechukwu Umezurike
PART IV. A SELECTION FROM PIUS ADESANMI’S THE WAYFARER AND OTHER POEMS
The Wayfarer—Pius Adesanmi | Ah, Prometheus! —Pius Adesanmi | Odia Ofeimun: The Brooms Take Flight—Pius Adesanmi | To the Unfathomable One—Pius Adesanmi | Message from Aso Rock to a Poet in Exile—Pius Adesanmi | Entries—Pius Adesanmi
Part V. POSTLUDE
A Prose-Poem, a Tribute, and a Wreath for Pius—Adesanmi Anu’a-Gheyle Solomon Azoh-Mbi | When and If…—Pamela J. Olúbùnmi Smith
About the editors
Soundtrack to a Wayfarer s Transition by Eyitayo Aloh https://doi-org.proxy.library.carleton.ca/10.1080/00083968.2020.1829830
“Wreaths for a Wayfarer is an eclectic collection of 161 poems by 126 poets and writers, woven like a tapestry of words into a wreath for one of their own. The mix of writers cuts across generations, social strata and stylistic practices of the genre. Rather than being a drawback, this is actually a strength of the anthology, that one man can bring together such an array of writers in one tome. It is an attestation to the influence of Adesanmi, the wayfarer, on his earthly journey – a man who served as a bridge that connected people from different backgrounds and brought them together for a common cause, be that the academic field of African studies and his desire to see it gain greater traction in academia, or global literature at large and his love of deconstructing the western canonisation of literature. Above all these, however, Adesanmi quintessentially remained a human with love for fellow humans. lt is a testament to Adesanmi’s influence and reach across generations that renowned African poets such as Niyi Osundare, Helon Habila, Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, Maxim Uzor Uzoatu, Emman Usman Shehu, Jumoke Verissimo and Funmi Aluko, all representing various ethnic and generational divides, share the pages of the collection with up and coming poets in a poetic salute to a wayfarer who also happens to belong to their artistic tribe.
As a collection, Wreath for a Wayfarer fills a gap in the coming to terms with the tragic passage of Pius Adesanmi by his artistic peers. In a culture that has become so material, that the concept of a wreath carries with it the presence of a cadaver and a tomb – neither of which was present at the time Pius died, due to the nature of his death – to have a “wreath” of words helps give Adesanmi’s contemporaries closure and deal with the trauma that accompanied his passing. One of the co-editors, Nduka Otiono, alludes to this in his introduction, pointing out that the poems represent “the collective wreaths laid by a dispersed community of writers unsettled by the untimely loss of Adesanmi.”
These poems by Issa Shivji, lawyer, activist and Tanzanian public intellectual, were written at different times in different circumstances. They give vent to personal anguish and political anger. Mostly originally written in Kiswahili, here accompanied by English translations, and they are intensely personal and political.
Poems are clustered under several headings to provide a context. The first combines personal agony at the loss of comrades and friends with poems about love and affection for living ones. The second is about robberies of freedom, resources, and dignity and the loss of justice under neoliberalism. The third section, entitled Hopes and Fears, comprises short poems tweeted over the last five years expressing despair, fear and hope in the human capacity for freedom.
The last section are poems, concerned with Shivji’s period in South Africa in 2018, reflect on the emergence of neo-apartheid with its wanton and shameless exploitation of the majority.
Wonderfully translated by Ida Hadjivayanis.
You can read the entire book online here for free.
Edited by Íde Corley, Helen Fallon, Laurence Cox
These letters and poems are invaluable fragments of a living conversation that portrays the indomitable power in humans to stay alive in the face of certain death – to stay alive even in death.
Reading through the treasure trove of the letters and poems compiled here as The Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa evokes intense memories of his resolute struggles against an oil behemoth and a deaf autocratic government. His crusade frames one of the most tumultuous periods of Nigeria’s history; his tragic story evokes anger and demands action to resolve the crises that first led the Ogoni people to demand that Shell clean up Ogoni lands or clear out of the territory.
It was Saro-Wiwa’s leadership, in great part, that forced Shell out of Ogoni in January 1993. The letters are a testament of hope, being one side of robust conversations between two persons that many would find unlikely friends. We learn the lessons that indeed ‘friends love at all times and brothers (and sisters) are born for adversity’, as a proverb in the Bible states. This is where we must applaud Sister Majella McCarron for preserving and making public these letters that Ken Saro-Wiwa wrote to her between 20 October 1993 and 14 September 1995. The collection includes essays by the three editors, select bibliography and recommended resources.
You can read this book online for free.
This is a testament to the bravery of my father, Ken Saro-Wiwa. His words are an inspiration to anyone fighting against tyranny, and a reminder to oppressors the world over that the human spirit can never be broken.
– Noo Saro-Wiwa, author of Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria (2012)
Here is a remarkable book of the correspondence from one of the greatest leaders of our time to a strong and gentle Catholic sister living half-way around the world. Ken Saro-Wiwa, enduring harsh treatment and facing cer- tain death, writes from detention in Nigeria about justice and honour and sets the bar for courage for the rest of us. Struggles for indigenous justice in the face of corporate tyranny continue to this day. Everyone engaged in these struggles will be moved and inspired by these haunting letters written by a legend.
– Maude Barlow, author, activist and National Chairperson of Council of Canadians
A poignant collection that unveils a remarkable friendship as much as it animates the memory of Saro-Wiwa’s indomitable spirit. It is perhaps one of the the bitter ironies of his life he had to feed the soldiers who guarded him as well as witness army captains fight over who should be his jailer.
– Brian Chikwava, writer and winner of the 2004 Caine Prize for African Writ- ing, Associate Editor, Wasafiri Magazine
More fully than any biographical essay would have done, the letters and the poems reveal the mind of the campaigner for justice while he is under arrest, courageously planning and prompting, writing and keeping himself informed, keeping his cause alive, but they also show Ken Saro-Wiwa as the anxious father worrying about his children and as the man alone thrown on his resources. The three lucid essays which frame the letters prove an excel- lent and informative guide to the events behind the letters and add to the importance of this publication.
– Abdulrazak Gurnah, novelist, Booker Prize nominee 2004, winner of the RFI Témoin du Monde Prize 2006 and Professor of English at the University of Kent
The letters and poems collected in this volume show with great eloquence that Saro-Wiwa confronted Abacha’s darkness, and the darkness of the international oil conglomerates, especially Shell, with anger, sadness, wit and humour. In nearly every letter and poem in the volume there is suffusing light and uncommon grace. I confidently expect that in time, this slim volume will take its rightful place among the most important works of prison writing and environmental activism in the world.
– Biodun Jeyifo, Harvard University
Following Ken Saro-Wiwa’s second arrest in 1994, Sr Majella McCarron approached Trócaire for help. His release became a priority campaign for us, and we engaged with Shell, the media and Government to try and com- mute the death sentences for him and the eight co-accused Ogoni leaders. I remember the despair in Trócaire’s offices on 10th November 1995 when we learned that all nine had been executed. The struggle of the Ogoni people is a part of Trócaire’s history, and the writings in Silence Would be Treason: Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa are a testament to Ken Saro-Wiwa’s spirit and courage, demonstrating that, even in the darkest of times, love truly can conquer fear.
– Éamonn Meehan, Executive Director of Trócaire
Clear and direct, these letters and poems are the last expression of a voice the regime was determined to silence: a voice for indigenous rights, environ- mental survival and democracy, many of those battles were won despite his death and whose voice comes alive today again in these extraordinary letters.
– Boletim Africanista, 2013
But isn’t this at last, Glaucon, the song that dialectic sings? [Plato, The Republic 532]
This book condenses the theory and extends into new empirical domains the core arguments of my treatise on political theory Thinking Freedom in Africa: toward a theory of emancipatory politicswhich was awarded the Frantz Fanon Prize in 2017. It proposes to focus on the dialectic as the core subjective feature of all emancipatory political experiments on the African continent. It traces dialectical thinking to its origins in Ancient Egypt and notes its systematic opposition to the idea of representation in politics in various historical sequences right up to the present in the thought of emancipatory struggles. Starting from the fundamental conception that all people are capable of thought, namely that anyone can think beyond interests and identities, the argument traces a number of historical political sequences most notably the Haitian Revolution (undertaken by slaves born in Africa), the emancipatory thinking of the National Liberation Struggles of the 1960s and the mass popular struggles in South Africa during the 1980s which themselves presaged the popular upsurge in North Africa in 2011. The core of the dialectic in each case differs but always combines a thought of the particular with one of universal humanity. The text also elaborates a theory of neo-colonial state politics through unpacking the core statist idea of representation. Differing modes of state rule are identified and the formation of particularistic social movements explained, particularly in the case of South Africa. Resistance to state modes of rule are analysed in order to elucidate the features and limits of the subjective political domains structured by these modes of rule. In this manner both the dialectic of emancipation and the character of state power are thought conjointly and dialectical thinking is opposed to the idea of representation in politics as well as in social science. The concepts and categories used are explained in a simple manner understandable by all.
Market:activists, academics, students and trade unionists.
Table of Contents
- Introduction: people think – recovering the dialectic in thought
- The expressive-excessive dialectic and historical political sequences
- From Saint Domingue to Haiti: the thought of universal humanity and its subjective limits
- National Liberation Struggles: universalism, statism and party representation
- South Africa: from ‘people’s power’ to national chauvinism
- Representation as anti-dialectic: parties, civil society, NGOs, social movements
- The Neo-colonial State: Modes of Rule and Popular Struggles
- Conclusions: dialectics vs representation and the future of emancipation
Valiani has written a beautiful and insightful book of poetry about the birthplace of humanity; ‘the cradle of civilization’, Africa. The poems are gathered into four sections: “Womb”; “Land(s)”; “Tides”; “Wind”. Each section is prefaced by philosophy, findings and artifacts of “Maropeng” which becomes both subject and predicate for this soothing poetry: a lullaby for the soul’s remembering. Candice James Poet Laureate Emerita of New Westminster
Cradles is a collection poems on the nature(s) and nurturing that cradle us. They are divided into four parts: Womb is the first cradle, both ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’, under-acknowledged and often unmentioned. Beyond the physical womb of individuals, there are collective wombs that incubate on yet grander and greater scales. Land(s) are the cradles we typically identify as our ‘origins’, but as the Cradle of Humankind teaches, the many lands of today are interlaced in many concealed ways and originated in a single, little understood place. Tides are the many migrations and cycles of time that shape us. They can shift, upset and remake the nurturing of cradles; but also cradle us in cycles of wreckage. Wind sets us free of places and times of origin. This detachment can bring freedom, a sense of loss/lostness, and the many things in between. The freedom/loss/lostness spiral whirls with the wind and transforms. In surrendering to it we can alter its pace to our needs and desires.