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14. August 2014

Symposium "South Africa: Challenges and Promises of Democracy", Fri, 10-17h00, HKW

Xolela Mangcu

On Friday, 29 August 2014 from 10h00 a.m., a Symposium featuring prominent intellectuals and analysts from South Africa and Germany will debate different aspects of the following overall topic: Challenges and Promises of Democracy in South Africa.

In the two decades of its democracy, South Africa has come a long way in dismantling the legal infrastructure of apartheid and racism. Decades of struggle had prepared South Africans to imagine a state and a society that should be achieved through strong, visionary policies. No area of public life was left untouched by profound reforms, be it education, justice, tax collection, housing, health,  defense, water, energy, budgeting, and others. But in spite of the achievements of the transition, an increasing number of South African citizens are voicing their disappointment. The democratic project is being challenged by inequality, inertia, violence. The symposium "South Africa: Challenges and Promises of Democracy" invites actors of four key areas of social life – economics, education, justice and culture – to a critical appraisal of the developments since 1994. What are the possibilities of re-engaging the South African archive of hope?

Economy, Community and Sustainability
Discussion with Mzukisi Qobo, NN
moderated by Jule Reimer

Truth and Justice
Discussion with Ben Khumalo-Seegelken, Antjie Krog, Dumisa Buhle Ntsebeza,
moderated by Bernd Pickert

Education and Democratization
Discussion with Njabulo S Ndebele, Carole Bloch, Xolela Mangcu,
moderated by Birgit Morgenrath

Post-Apartheid Public Culture
Discussion with Pumla Gqola, Khalo Matabane, Jihan El-Tahri, Zanele Muholi,
moderated by Storm Janse van Rensburg


Carole Bloch is director of PRAESA, a non-government multilingual education organization affiliated to the University of Cape Town. PRAESA researches and develops alternative forms of language and literacy education in South Africa, and drives the Nal’ibali national reading-for-enjoyment campaign to set up reading clubs that promote and sustain the joy of reading and storytelling between adults and children. She is also founder of the “Little Hands Trust,” which develops multilingual children’s literature in Africa.

Jihan El-Tahri is an Egyptian-French producer and award winning documentary filmmaker. She began her career as a journalist, and from 1984 to 1990 she was a correspondent for a number of news outlets, including Reuters, the Washington Post, and the Sunday Times. Her film “The House of Saud” was nominated for an Emmy in 2005. In “Behind the Rainbow” (2008) she examined the development of the ANC in South Africa after apartheid. El-Tahri has written two books: “The Nine Lives of Yasser Arafat” and “Israel and the Arabs: the 50 Years War.”

Pumla Dineo Gqola is Associate Professor in the Department of African Literature. She joined Wits in March 2007. Immediately prior to her tenure at Wits, Gqola had worked as Focus Area Leader:OpenSpeak at the Meraka Institute, managed by the CSIR and Chief Research Specialist: Societies, Cultures and Identities Programme at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). Gqola was a Senior Lecturer at the University of the Free State's Department of English and Classical Culture until August 2005. Prior to fulltime employment, she had also worked in the Aacademic Development Programme at UCT, the English Department at UCT and the Language Development Unit at the Cape Technikon. Gqola's research foci are: slave memory in the African world, Black Co nsciousness literature, womanism and feminist literary studies, postcolonialism, post-apartheid pubic culture, African feminist sexualities.

Ben Khumalo-Seegelken is a theologist and professor for education, social sciences, Evangelical theology, and religious education at the University of Oldenburg. After completing his studies in South Africa, he was forced to leave the country in 1975 due to his resistance to the apartheid system. From 1985 to 1986 he was assistant professor for systematic and ecumenical theology at the University of Vienna, after which he served as an Evangelical minister in the Rhineland until 1994. In 2004/2005 he directed an integration center for gay and lesbian migrants and organized the events series “Berliner Tage des interkulturellen Dialogs” (Berlin Days of Intercultural Dialogue).

Antjie Krog is a poet, writer, journalist and professor at the University of the Western Cape. She published twelve volumes of poetry and three non-fiction books. “Country of my Skull” (1998) about the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission on which she reported as a radio journalist, and “A Change of Tongue” (2004) about the transformation in South Africa after ten years, have been nominated by South African librarians (LIASA) as two of the ten most important books written in ten years of democracy. Her third non-fiction book “Begging to be Black” (2009) deals with learning to live within a black majority. Further she translated the autobiography of Nelson Mandela, “Long Walk to Freedom” into Afrikaans. Krog won all of the prestigious South African awards for non-fiction, translation and poetry available in Afrikaans and English, as well as the Stockholm Award from the Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture for the year 2000, and the Open Society Prize from the Central European University (previous winners were Jürgen Habermas and Vaclav Havel).

Xolela Mangcu is associate professor of sociology at the University of Cape Town and the Oppenheimer Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is the author and co-author of seven books, including the recently published, “Biko: A Biography” (Tafelberg, 2012). Mangcu was previously a columnist for the Business Day, the Weekender and the Sunday Independent in South Africa and has also been a commentator for CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera. He has held fellowships at the Brookings Institution, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Mangcu obtained his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University and holds MSc (Development Planning) and BA ( Sociology) degrees from Wits University. The Sunday Times (South Africa)has described him as “possibly the most prolific public intellectual in South Africa.”

Khalo Matabane is an award winning filmmaker, author, and producer. His docufiction “Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon,” which examines the situation of refugees in South Africa, was part of the official program at the Toronto Film Festival and won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2006 Berlinale. “State of Violence” (2010), his first feature film, was widely praised by critics at numerous film festivals including the Toronto Film Festival and the Berlinale. His new film, “Nelson Mandela: The Myth and Me,” a documentary film about the controversies surrounding Mandela’s policy of reconciliation, was released in 2013.

Zanele Muholi was born in Umlazi, Durban, in 1972, and lives in Johannesburg. She studied photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg. She has won numerous awards including the Fine Prize for an emerging artist at the 2013 Carnegie International; a Prince Claus Award (2013); the Index on Censorship - Freedom of Expression art award (2013); the Casa Africa award for best female photographer and a Fondation Blachère award at Les Rencontres de Bamako biennial of African photography (2009). Her Faces and Phases series has shown on Documenta 13; the South African Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, Imaginary Fact: South African art and the archive; and the 29th São Paulo Biennale; a book of the series published by Prestel was nominated as best photobook of 2010 at the International Photobook Festival in Kassel. Muholi is an Honorary Professor of the University of the Arts/Hochschule für Künste Bremen.

Birgit Morgenrath is an author and journalist for, among other outlets, the ARD’s radio departments. After studying German studies and political science and her education in journalism, Morgenrath worked in the middle of the 1980s as an editor, reporter, and moderator at WDR from 1985 to 1989. She was later a member of the collective Rheinisches JournalistInnen Büro in Cologne until 2011. Her main focuses include history, economics, and environmental issues in South Africa and the southern African region as well as African literature. She is co-author of the book “Deutsches Kapital am Kap—Kollaboration mit dem Apartheidregime,” published by Edition Nautilus in 2003, further she translated Denis Goldberg’s autobiography “The Mission: A Life for Freedom in South Africa” into German.

Njabulo S Ndebele is a fiction and essay writer, public commentator, and one of the key figures in South African higher education. Since 2013, Ndebele has served as chairman of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and in 2012 was appointed Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg. As a publicist he is known for his essays about South African literature and culture as well as his precise interventions in political questions. His most well-known publications include the collection of essays “Rediscovery of the Ordinary” (COSAW, 1991), the Noma Award-winning volume of short stories “Fools and Other Stories” (Ravan Press, 1984), his novel “The Cry of Winnie Mandela” (Ayebia Clarke, 2004), and the essay collection “Fine Lines from the Box” (Umuzi, 2007).

Born in the Eastern Cape, Dumisa Ntsebeza, like many young South Africans in the 70’s was involved in the struggle. He was arrested in the mid 70’s and served time in prison, during which he completed his law degree. Ntsebeza emerged as a commissioner in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1995. After the commission, he went on to play other key roles, including becoming chairman of Media and Entertainment Company Avusa until he resigned in 2011. He is the Director of Barloworld Limited and Acting judge of the High Court of South Africa. Ntsebeza also founded the South African Black lawyers Association. He is currently visiting professor of Political Science and Law at the University of Connecticut in the US.

Dr Mzukisi Qobo is co-author of The Fall of the ANC: What Next? published by Picador Africa 2014. He teaches international political economy at the University of Pretoria, and is deputy director at the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation. Previously he worked at the Department of Trade and Industry where he was chief director responsible for developing South Africa’s trade policy. He also pioneered the Emerging Powers and Global Challenges programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) where he worked on the involvement of emerging economies, in particular the BRICS in Africa, and their leadership role in global governance process. He has also trained diplomats on economic diplomacy. He received his PhD from the University of Warwick, UK; MA from the University of Stellenbosch; and BA from the University of Cape Town.

Storm Janse Van Rensburg is an independent contemporary art curator and writer. He was senior curator at the Goodman Gallery Cape Town from 2007 to 2012, and has curated numerous group and solo exhibitions, most recently “A temporary admission” by Bridget Baker for the National Arts Festival, Gahamstown, South Africa (2014). Since relocating to Berlin in 2012 he curated the group exhibition “The Beautyful Ones” at the Galerie Nolan Judin and co-curated the exhibition “GhostBusters II” in SAVVY Contemporary. He is project curator for “Oblique” an ongoing travelling exhibition by Abrie Fourie, which was shown at HKW (2012), Johannesburg Art Gallery (2012), and Savannah College of Art and Design, USA (2013/14) amongst others. Janse van Rensburg has written for numerous publications, including Art South Africa, Canvas Magazine and Metropolis M. He is currently a fellow at the Bayreuth Academy for Advanced African Studies and is a co-curator for the research and exhibition project ”Giving Contours to Shadows, “an initiative by Savvy Contemporary in partnership with the Neuer Berlin Kunstverein.



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