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Video: Salma Ismail Shares the Triumph of The Victoria Mxenge Housing Project in Victoria Mxenge

The Victoria Mxenge Housing ProjectSalma Ismail, author of The Victoria Mxenge Housing Project: Women building communities through social activism and informal learning and academic based at UCT’s Higher and Adult Education Studies and Development Unit, held a launch for the book at the Derek Hannekom Community Center in Victoria Mxenge.

The event was imbued with an air of celebration and triumph. Ismail spoke about the history of the Victoria Mxenge Housing Association, a collection of rural women who succeeded in build their own houses. She says it was a great triumph for the women, and a model for citizenship and advocacy.

Patricia Matolengwe, chairperson of The Victoria Mxenge Housing Association, and Tumi Mabelane from the Department of Human Settlements, also spoke at the event.

Watch the videos:

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Theo Neethling oor Politieke Islam: Alle Moslems ondersteun nie terrorisme nie

Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development in AfricaProfessor Theo Neethling van die Departement Politieke Wetenskap aan die Universiteit van die Vrystaat het vandeesweek ‘n artikel geskryf vir Netwerk24 oor die “problematiek van die Politieke Islam”.

Die samesteller van Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa: Concepts, Role-players, Policy and Practice verwys na die onlangse terreuraanvalle op die Garissa University College in Kenia en Charlie Hebdo in Frankryk en plaas die navorsing wat poog om ‘n profiel van ’n tipiese “Islamitiese terroris” saam te stel onder die vergrootglas.

Neethling skryf ter afsluiting dat dit “onwetenskaplik, ongegrond en misplaas is om net te aanvaar alle Moslems ondersteun terrorisme”.

Lees die insiggewende artikel:

Uit studies in die Europese konteks blyk dit voormalige Islamitiese terroriste het ’n paar sake gemeen gehad, naamlik ’n ontworteling van die een of ander aard, wat beteken hulle was dikwels aanwesig in enklawes vir buitelanders in vreemde lande, byvoorbeeld Algeryne in Frankryk, Marokkane in Spanje of Jemeniete in Saoedi-Arabië.

Wat veral interessant is, is baie van die mense het nie in ’n toegewyde Islamitiese huishouding grootgeword nie, maar het tot bekering gekom in die lande waarin hulle hul gevestig het.

In aansluiting hierby is daar veral deur kundiges op die gebied van teen-terreur toenemend geargumenteer dat Moslems wat in huishoudings van toegewyde godsdienstige beoefening grootgeword het, nie ’n geneigdheid tot terrorisme toon nie. ’n Tweede belangrike bevinding is dat terroriste klaarblyklik meer deur politieke as godsdienstige oortuigings gedryf word.

Boekbesonderhede

Salma Ismail to Speak about The Victoria Mxenge Housing Project at the 2015 Trialogue CSI Conference

The Victoria Mxenge Housing Project: Women building communities through social activism and informal learningDr Salma Ismail will present a workshop at the 2015 Trialogue CSI Conference on the research she conducted for her book, The Victoria Mxenge Housing Project: Women building communities through social activism and informal learning.

Ismail will deliver a two-hour presentation from 2:30 to 4:30 PM at The Wanderers Club on Tuesday, 5 May 2015. She will speak about the work she’s done since 1977 with women living in various informal settlements, including Modderdam and Crossroads.

The conference is currently in its eighth year and celebrates the corporate social investment strategies of organisations. The two-day event costs R6 800 for corporate and government delegates and R3 800 for non-profit organisations. Download and complete the online booking form here.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 5 May 2015
  • Time: 2:30 to 4:30 PM
  • Venue: The Wanderers Club
    21 North Street
    Johannesburg
  • Refreshments: Snacks, lunch and cocktail function
  • Cover charge: R6 800 or R3 800 for non-profits
  • RSVP: 021 671 1640, vsampson@trialogue.co.za

 
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“We Need Fire”: Watch Simon Pooley’s Discussion of Burning Table Mountain

Burning Table MountainThe launch of Burning Table Mountain: An Environmental History of Fire on the Cape Peninsula by Simon Pooley was held at Clarke’s Book Shop in Cape Town earlier this year.

Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd has shared videos from the event.

“We need fire,” Pooley said, explaining the context of this important work, in which he looks at the history and science of wildfires as well as the environmental and social challenges of fire management on the wildland-urban interface of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula. He discussed the different chapters, sharing how he divided the different topics he touches on in Burning Table Mountain and giving readers a summary of what they can expect to find.

Watch the footage from the launch – the second event held in celebration of Pooley’s book – to find out more about this fascinating book on environmental history:

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“It is a Marvel!” – Read Njabulo Ndebele’s Essay on the Symbolism of the Rhodes Statue at UCT

ViewpointsUCT has shared Emeritus Professor Njabulo Ndebele’s introduction to Viewpoints: The University of Cape Town and its treasures on its Daily News website.

In the excerpt, Ndebele unpacks the legacy of Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town, saying his “exerts a presence on campus which often prompts a desire for his absence”.

The statue of Rhodes, which presided over the Jameson Steps on the Cape Town campus since 1934, was removed yesterday after protracted protests.

Ndebele, who served as Vice-Chancellor of UCT between 2000 an 2008, describes the statue’s symbolic architectural significance:

You may not see him clearly in the iconic wide-angle view of UCT. Yet he is decidedly there. Perhaps it is just as well that his visual presence is not more prominent. He is part of campus history, not the whole of it.

Rhodes is memorialised on campus by a bronze statue of him, now weathered green by time. On a closer look you will make him out, the hippo on the surface of UCT’s river of time, defying casual embarrassment and willed inclinations to have it submerge, perhaps forever. Its broad back defiantly in view, it is never to be recalled without thoughts and feelings that take away peace of mind.

Indeed, Rhodes, the donor of the land on which the University of Cape Town was built, exerts a presence on campus which often prompts a desire for his absence. But, like Moby Dick the whale, he will blow.

The statue of Cecil John Rhodes, ‘sculpted by Marion Walgate and unveiled in 1934′, fits perfectly in Solomon’s abstracted symmetry. To appreciate the bold magnificence of this symmetry, you have to imagine a centre line which begins some two to three hundred metres down the hill below Solomon’s framed foreground, at a spot known as the Japonica Walk. The line cuts upward through the white structure known as Summer House, ‘built about 1760 by the Dutch’ and ‘reconstructed by Herbert Baker in 1894′. A point of architectural serenity amid the din of the M3 highway traffic just above it, the Summer House stands at the upper edge of the Middle Campus.

The line then hops over the highway to the lawn of the rugby fields, the lowest point of the wide-angle picture frame’s foreground. Standing at the edge of these green lawns, the

Summer House behind you, you can see clearly the line of symmetry cutting through Rhodes’s statue, giving it a place of honour you may never have imagined. Rhodes is placed firmly at the centre of the space between the third and fourth pillars of Jameson Hall. It is a marvel!

The line then ascends to Jameson Hall, to cut perfectly into two halves the pediment, a perfect, flat, isosceles triangle resting on the entablature just above the pillars. It cuts through the pediment’s vertex angle, lining its tip with the flagpole at the centre of the Hall’s summit. Then, finally, it leaps like a laser beam across the fynbos and the end of Newlands Forest, to head straight for the forehead tip of Devil’s Peak.

But from where he sits in a panelled armchair about one hundred metres in front of Jameson Hall, Rhodes has his back to the splendour behind him. It is with a great sense of himself that he seems to feel the presence of everything behind him without having to validate it with his eyes. It is there, on his land.

Leaning on his right hand, his right elbow on his right thigh, Rhodes contemplates the wide vista in front of him, below him, facing east. He takes it all in, in a leisurely if thoughtful pose. His left hand, hanging casually over the left armrest and side panel of his chair, holds a scroll loosely. The manner of his clutch is in his gaze. He seems to have suspended reading momentarily to ponder. He will get back to it, when he needs to.

A concrete balustrade just below Rhodes allows you to stand there, your back to him. You too can assume his pose and everything behind him. Then you can see fully what he himself and Jameson Hall behind him can see. For a while you might even experience the gaze of contentment: there, spread before you, is the world you had a hand in shaping.

You and Rhodes see a great deal from that balustrade. You will watch rugby games just below. Farther down, you will see the Middle Campus, once dominated by the Kramer Law Building, now with two newer structures, the Masingene and the School of Economics buildings. Your eyes will move across to the left, attracted by the twin multi-storied residences, Leo Marquard and Tugwell.

Effortlessly, your eyes will leave campus and take in the power station between Pinelands suburb and KwaLanga township. If you have a longer memory you will remember that once there were two cooling towers over there. Those towers and a railway line separated white Pinelands and black KwaLanga, despite the two suburbs’ proximity to each other. How many citizens of these suburbs, you may ask, will have stood together in the voters’ lines in April 1994?

With a slight movement of your face to the right, you will see the N2 highway. A further movement of your neck will reveal more of the wide vista of the Cape Flats and a refurbished landmark: the Athlone Stadium. It will remind you of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, when billions around the world knew for sure there was a city called Cape Town, and that where you stand was a part of that city. Farther beyond, you may see aircraft take off and land at Cape Town International Airport, where soccer fans from around the world will have landed. And then well beyond but within the reach of your eyes, you will see another mountain range: the Helderberg. The illusion of its closeness occurs at the expense of a vast False Bay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean, just beyond the airport.

Although you and Rhodes command a view, the vista before you is too far and widespread to show its imperfections. At some time past you may have read about, heard about, or seen smoke rising from rampant fires in the informal settlements of KwaLanga along the highway to and from the airport; and from farther afield, in the townships of Gugulethu and Crossroads. You might have contemplated lives charred and belongings incinerated, families traumatised; and you might recall the clamours of tragedy in the newspapers, on radio and television, of political accusation and counter-accusation, and stories of poverty and wealth deposited on the deliberative tables of commissions of inquiry.

From there at the balustrade, with Rhodes behind you, you contemplate the imperfections of life beyond in the vista, and ponder on the perfect symmetry that immediately surrounds you.

You and Rhodes command a view.

 

 

Book details

South Africa Facing Smallest Maize Harvest in Eight Years (Video and Podcast)

Food for AfricaOwing to a drought earlier this year, South Africa is facing the smallest maize harvest in eight years.

In an interview for SABC News, Grain SA economist Wessel Lemmer explained the broad repercussions of the shortage. He says South Africa will harvest 31 percent less maize this year than it did last year.

As maize is a staple food, as well as livestock feed and a product that can be exported for profit, the effects of the drought will be felt in many ways.

Watch the video:

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Bruce Whitfield spoke to Omri van Zyl, senior associate at Deloitte Africa Agribusiness Unit, on his Talk Radio 702/CapeTalk to better understand how the shrinking agricultural industry, and how this interacts with politics, economics and the current drought.

Listen to the podcast:

 

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Edgar Pieterse to Speak at the International New Town Institute Conference in the Netherlands

Africa's Urban RevolutionEdgar Pieterse, co-editor of Africa’s Urban Revolution, will be speaking at the International New Town Institute conference “Urban Africa: New strategies for the world’s fastest urbanizing continent” in Rotterdam.

The conference will draw together academics, designers and political speakers from around the world to speak about the future of urbanisation in Africa.

It will be held at Het Nieuwe Instituut at Museumpark, on Tuesday, 7 April from 9:30 AM to 5 PM. The cost, including lunch, is €25 and €15 for students.

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 7 April 2015
  • Time: 9:30 AM for 5 PM
  • Venue: Het Nieuwe Instituut
    Museumpark
    Rotterdam | Map
  • Speakers: Christine de Baan (moderator), Lawrence Esho, Ton Dietz, Ronald Wall, Khalied Jacobs, Michelle Provoost, Robert van Kats, Rogier van den Berg, Maarten Hajer, Duzan Doepel, Jason Hilgefort, Jandirk Hoekstra, Harro Wieringa and Walter van Dijk
  • Refreshments: Lunch
  • Cover charge: €25, €15 for students
  • Enquiries: j.buitenkant@newtowninstitute.org
  • Bookings: Het Nieuwe Instituut
  • More information: New Town Institute

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Book Details

Salma Ismail and Josette Cole Launch The Victoria Mxenge Housing Project at The Book Lounge

Salma Ismail

 
The Book Lounge was abuzz with people from every walk of life who came to celebrate the launch of Salma Ismail’s first book, The Victoria Mxenge Housing Project: Women building communities through social activism and informal learning, recently.

Ismail, who is based at UCT’s Higher and Adult Education Studies and Development Unit, was joined in a conversation with Josette Cole, a land and housing activist with many years experience working in the area. Cole, the executive director of the Development Action Group, gave a brief context for the history from which the narrative emerges, and asked Ismail how she came to write this book.

Josette Cole and Salma IsmailThe Victoria Mxenge Housing ProjectRecalling her work since 1977 with women living in various informal settlements, including Modderdam and Crossroads, Ismail emphasised the potential that was realised by those who had come through difficult circumstances.

Reflecting on the lengthy struggle of women contesting their right of access to the city, Ismail said: “The women who ended up on Site C, some of whom had voluntarily relocated to Khayelitsha, others who had been forcibly removed in 1986 when the Witdoeke and the State conspired, came out of a history of pain and struggle. The women at Victoria Mxenge and in Site C reinvent themselves.”

Considering Ismail’s work in bringing this book together, Cole emphasised the attention to the stories that the author had brought to bear. She said, “There are people who make history, people who teach it and people who write it. There’s a circle that goes round, a process of active engagement that comprises action, reflection and the completion of the writing.”

Cole suggested that the initial struggle was for the right to the city, for tenure rights and the right to belong. Victoria Mxenge women were already close to winning that right in 1992. “Their struggle became one of belonging,” she said, “a struggle of place, and of housing.”

Ismail expressed her delight at the presence of her colleagues, friends, and those present with shared histories in Crossroads and the Victoria Mxenge housing project, at The Book Lounge. She mentioned the first launch (which had occurred the previous weekend at the housing project) where the women arrived in their traditional dress, singing and dancing in response to the joyous occasion. She said the book was a celebration of their achievement and the visibility the book had afforded them.

“The [South African Homeless People's] Federation has, to a certain extent, made them invisible, so the book changes some of that. It aims to show the agency of the women in the different phases of the project; trying to show them as mothers, as citizens, as actors and, very lately, as entrepreneurs. It shows the State’s role and the different organisations’ influence in shaping their identities, as well as the way they shaped their own identity as they realised their dreams of building their own houses and communities,” said Ismail.

“The central node of this project was education,” said Ismail, speaking about how the women’s process as active citizens invested in their own learning informed the outcome. Their own education was key to their development as they integrated new knowledge and skills through their experience.

“They settled on this desolate land and built over 5 000 houses, building better quality houses than the RDP houses, while upgrading their own skills. They got access to the land donated by the Catholic church to the community. The women of the Victoria Mxenge community put forward a motivation that consolidated their presence and gained them secure tenure of the land,” said Ismail.

Many who arrived to celebrate the launch shared their recollections of Ismail’s gentle interventions and deep listening. Mention was made of how her presence had profoundly influenced and subtly educated those who had shared their vision with her.

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:


 

 

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Louis Picard and Thomas Mogale Present The Limits of Democratic Governance in South Africa

The Limits of Democratic Governance in South AfricaUCT Press is proud to present The Limits of Democratic Governance in South Africa by Louis Picard and Thomas Mogale:

A compelling narrative that takes the reader through the evolution of local governance in South Africa, from its historical beginnings through the current time, to shed considerable light on the current sharing of power and resources across government levels … an important contribution.” — Jamie Boex, The Urban Institute

In the transition from apartheid rule to democratic governance in South Africa, what has been the impact on South African society at its base — on the people in the country’s cities, towns, villages, and farms? Louis Picard and Thomas Mogale offer answers to this fundamental question, tracing historical trends and measuring change (or the lack of it) in the dynamic between the promise of local participatory governance and the realities of a hierarchical state.

They examine the human dynamics of governance: the legacy of urban apartheid townships and rural homelands (or Bantustans) and its impact on local governance; intergovernmental relationships; and civil society. Their concern is with the state-centric manner in which the apartheid regime controlled black South Africans and the implications of this control for postapartheid South Africa. At the subnational government level they identify two trends: (1) a promise of — or at least the demand for — local participatory governance and (2) local political elites trying to impose political structures and processes on society. This book examines the clash between those two historical trends and addresses the concern that South Africans may one day share the fate of many in the rest of Africa, particularly those who reside in its urban slums and in its rural areas.

CONTENTS

  • Political Development in South Africa
  • Patterns of Local Governance: Africa’s Colonial Legacy
  • The Colonial Origins of Local Control in South Africa
  • Authoritarian Institutions and Governance: The British Come to the Cape
  • From Colonialism to Apartheid: State Structures at the Base
  • The Urban Local State in the Apartheid Era
  • The Local State vs Local Governance after Apartheid
  • Where’s the Money? The Fiscal Debate
  • The Special Challenges of Rural Local Governance
  • The Continuing Role of Traditional Authorities
  • The Dilemmas of Decentralized Governance

Book details

Cost of Cape Fires Already Estimated at a Whopping R6 Million, Still Counting

 
Burning Table MountainDespite still being counted, the actual cost of the devastating Cape fires has already amounted to an estimated R6 million in infrastructure, Helen Bamford reports for the Cape Argus.

“In addition to the infrastructure loss, the closure of the recreation areas will mean a huge loss in revenue. Two tented camps on a section of the popular Hoerikwaggo Trail in Silvermine and several footpaths were also destroyed, as well as long stretches of uninsured boardwalks,” Bamford writes.

She spoke to fire manager Philip Prins, Table Mountain National Park manager Paddy Gordon, and Rob Erasmus from Enviro Wildfire Services to find out more about the far-reaching consequences of the fire and the impact it had on the economy of the Southern Peninsula.

Read the article:

The park estimated that it had cost between R5.5m and R6m to fight the fires, with R4.8m in aerial costs alone, according to fire manager Philip Prins.

Park manager Paddy Gordon said there would also be a huge increase in alien vegetation clearing costs over the next few years as plants such as Australian wattles reseeded after fires.

The park already spends about R25m a year on alien clearing.

Gordon said the fires would have been much worse if they hadn’t cleared the aliens they had.

 

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Image courtesy of News24