“They were useless”: What about South Africa’s forgotten rural voters? (African Arguments) by Martin Plaut, 6 May 2019

7 May 2019

This is the first instalment of a three-part series around South Africa’s 8 May general elections.

Asanda Qosha was walking briskly along a dirt road in KwaTshatshu, on the outskirts of King Williams Town, in the Eastern Cape when I met him. Smartly dressed, he was making his way among the scattered houses, set in the green, rolling hillsides.

It’s the Unemployment, Stupid (Daily Maverick) by Stephen Grootes, 25 April 2019

30 April 2019

Fact: South Africa has a major unemployment problem. Wherever you go you find people desperate to work, desperate to get the income and dignity only work can bring. And yet, despite the 2019 elections being less than two weeks away, it does not seem that this issue is really dominating. At the same time, there is now some evidence that most voters don’t believe any particular party can resolve this crisis. That alone has important implications for our society.

The 5 townships that could tip Gauteng (News24) by Dawie Scholtz, 26 April 2019

30 April 2019

The Gauteng provincial election is going to be close. Very close. Although there's no doubt that the ANC will be the largest party in Gauteng, the key question is just whether the party will reach 50%.

Given historic voting patterns, recent by-elections and all of the polling we have seen, it is clear it will be a very tight race between the ANC and 50% in Gauteng. In a previous article, I explained the key drivers of the relative ANC weakness in the 2016 local government election. The two primary drivers were turnout and important shifts against the ANC in the black electorate.

The challenges of teaching the history of South Africa’s brutal past (The South African) by Philippe Alfroy, 26 April 2019

30 April 2019

On Saturday, 27 April, South Africa will celebrate Freedom Day, the on which South Africa held its first democratic elections. But the events that unfolded before that monumental day were grim.

Black-and-white pictures were projected onto the wall of a South African classroom and gospel music played evocatively in the background.

The pictures told a chilling tale: Angry protesters. Policemen beating crowds. Corpses lying scattered on the road. Coffins piled up.

Sharpeville Massacre

The date of these events – 21 March 1960 – is etched in the annals of history.

They don't get it': South Africa's scarred ANC faces voter anger (The Guardian), 30 April 2019

30 April 2019

Major Mgxaji, a retired union official in the poor township of Khayelitsha near Cape Town, was repeatedly jailed and tortured by apartheid authorities for his political activism with the ANC in the 1970s and 80s.

“It is not the same party as back then,” the 67-year-old said in an interview in Khayelitsha, where rolling power cuts in recent months have been widely blamed on corruption at the national electricity provider. “The ANC people have developed the struggle of the belly instead of the struggle to better the lives of our people. That is very dangerous.”

ATM takes ANC by-election votes in Eastern Cape By Dennis Webster (newframe.com)

23 April 2019

The outcome of the 8 May general election is a foregone conclusion. That’s according to some in the Eastern Cape, such as 74-year-old Nofikile Tyhokolwana, who believe that the upcoming vote has long been written in the stars.

An empty, faded powder blue cabinet stands at the far end of Tyhokolwana’s hut in Corhana on the outskirts of Mthatha. Her late husband was a carpenter and made the cabinet when he worked at a now-closed furniture factory in town.

The Handwritten Heritage of South Africa’s Kitabs (AramcoWorld) by Alia Yunis, March/April 2019

24 April 2019

In an orange house along one of the sloped lanes of Bo-Kaap, Cape Town’s Muslim neighborhood, 92-year-old Abdiyah Da Costa deftly climbs the stairs to the second floor to what essentially has become a personal museum. Meticulously dressed and made up—she used to own what she describes as four “high-fashion” clothing shops—she’s been waiting to show us around. Outside her window is a view of Cape Town’s iconic, flat-topped Table Mountain, which overlooks the city and the Atlantic Ocean.

Embedded with the Beating Heart of Madagascar’s Literary Life (Literaly Hub) by Allison M. Charette

24 April 2019

It’s cold in the pizza joint. Winter nights in Madagascar are chilly, and the tiny restaurant is in shadow until mid-afternoon. Those who attend Opération Bokiko’s lunchtime meetings are bundled in peacoats, sweaters, and elegantly tied scarves. As each person shows up, they shake the hand of the director, the manager, anyone else who’s already there. They usually start late—on “Malagasy time”—but Michèle Rakotoson is always punctual. No matter that she’s coming from outside the city in a little Citroen 2CV that doesn’t go higher than third gear anymore—she arrives promptly.

The Arab Spring of 1919 by Hussein A.H. Omar (LRB blog), 4 April 2019

8 April 2019

1919 was a year of travelling revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa. The uprisings were triggered by the efforts (sometimes secret, sometimes not) of Britain, France, Italy and Spain to colonise the Middle East and to divvy up its territories at the end of the First World War. As their intentions became apparent – after both Britain and France had repeatedly promised otherwise – thousands of men and, for the first time, women took to the streets in protest.