South African film culture, like so much of its public life, has undergone a tremendous transformation during its first decade of democracy. Filmmakers, once in exile, banned, or severely restricted, have returned home; subjects once outlawed by the apparatchiks of apartheid are now fair game; and a new crop of insurgent filmmakers are coming to the fore.
This extraordinary volume presents twenty-five in-depth interviews with established and emerging South African filmmakers, collected and edited by Audrey Thomas McCluskey. The interviews capture the filmmakers’ spirit, energy, and ambition as they attempt to give birth to a film culture that reflects the heart and aspirations of their diverse and emergent nation. The collection includes a biographical profile of each filmmaker, as well an introductory essay by McCluskey, pointing to the themes, as well as creative differences and similarities, among the filmmakers.
A revealing oral history collection, Profiles in Diversity contains in-depth interviews of twenty-six women in South Africa from different racial, class, and age backgrounds. Conducted in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Vryburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, Durban, and a rural section of Kwa-Zulu Natal, these life histories encompass diverse experiences ranging from a squatter in a township outside Cape Town to an ANC activist in Port Elizabeth, who lost three sons to the struggle for democracy and who herself was imprisoned several times during what many in South Africa now refer to as the "civil war."
Nearly all of these women describe their formative years spent growing up in South Africa's segregated society. Three young black students discuss the hardships they experienced in an unequal educational system as well as aspects of segregation in their childhood. They are joined in their memories and hopes for the future by two mature women—one now a high court judge in Durban and the other a linguist at the University of South Africa in Pretoria—both of whom studied at Harvard in the United States. Nancy Charton, the first woman ordained as an Anglican priest in South Africa, speaks about her past and what led her, in her early seventies, to a vocation in the church.
Three Afrikaner women, including one in her late twenties, speak about growing up in South Africa and articulate their concerns for a future that, in some respects, differs from the predictions of their English-speaking or black sisters. Two now-deceased members of the South African Communist Party provide disparate accounts of what led them to lives of active opposition to the discrimination that marked the lives of people of color, long before apartheid became embedded in South Africa's legal system. Also included is an account by Dr. Goonam, an Indian woman who grew up in relative comfort in the then province of Natal, while Ray Alexander discusses how she witnessed the tyranny visited on the Jews of her native Latvia before immigrating to the Cape.
A meditation on the lessons to be learned from South Africa's transformation in the wake of apartheid.
Justice, truth, and identity; race, society, and law--all come into dramatic play as South Africa makes the tumultuous transition to a post-apartheid democracy. Seeking the timeless through the timely and trying to find the deeper meaning in the sweep of events, Daniel Herwitz brings the vast resources of the philosophical essay to bear on the new realities of post-apartheid South Africa--from racial identity to truth commissions, from architecture to film and television.
A public intellectual's reflections on public life, Herwitz's essays question how the new South Africa has constructed its concepts of reconciliation and return and how its historical emergence has meant a rethinking, reimagining, reexperiencing, relabeling, and repoliticizing of race. Herwitz's purpose is to give a philosophical reading of society--a society already relying on implicitly philosophical concepts in its social and political agendas. Working through these concepts, testing their relevance for reading society, his book itself becomes a part of the politics of definition and description in the new South Africa.
Daniel Herwitz is director of the Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan, and holds professorships in art and philosophy at the School for Art and Design. He taught at the University of Natal in South Africa from 1996 to 2002.
Just across the northern border of a former apartheid-era homeland sits a rural community in the midst of change, caught between a traditional past and a western future, a racially charged history and a pseudo-democratic present. The Rainy Season, a work of engaging literary journalism, introduces readers to the remote bushveld community of Rooiboklaagte and opens a window into the complicated reality of daily life in South Africa.
The Rainy Season tells the stories of three generations in the Rainbow Nation one decade after its first democratic elections. This multi-threaded narrative follows Regina, a tapestry weaver in her sixties, standing at the crossroads where her Catholic faith and the AIDS pandemic crash; Thoko, a middle-aged sangoma (traditional healer) taking steps to turn her shebeen into a fully licensed tavern; and Dankie, a young man taking his matriculation exams, coming of age as one of Mandela’s Children, the first academic class educated entirely under democratic governance.
Home to Shangaan, Sotho, and Mozambican Tsonga families, Rooiboklaagte sits in a village where an outdoor butchery occupies an old petrol station and a funeral parlor sits in the attached garage. It’s a place where an AIDS education center sits across the street from a West African doctor selling cures for the pandemic. It’s where BMWs park outside of crumbling cement homes, and the availability of water changes with the day of the week. As the land shifts from dusty winter blond to lush summer green and back again, the duration of northeastern South Africa’s rainy season, Regina, Thoko, and Dankie all face the challenges and possibilities of the new South Africa.