Remembering Marikana – some stains won’t wash off

By  Maurice Mcleod  If your partner came home and unexpectedly gave you an expensive platinum ring, you would probably be very pleased. But if you were behaving responsibly, you’d ask them where it came from and how they afforded it. When they admitted that they stole it from the little old lady down the street,… Read More

Top 15 recently published books by writers and poets from Sub-Saharan Africa

by Samira Sawlani As the festive season begins, so does the enjoyable and/or stressful task of choosing Christmas presents for loved ones. Fret not; be it for the book and poetry lovers in your life or a reward for yourself after all that shopping, here is a list of recently published fiction and poetry by… Read More

The struggle continues for South Africa’s #FeesMustFall Students

by Mako Muzenda A young man being dragged across the road by two armed policemen. The screams and pleas of “Don’t shoot us!” went unheeded; the South African Police Service (SAPS) officers opened fire, shooting students with rubber coated bullets. Those that could run away did, but some weren’t fast enough to escape the police. Dragged… Read More

Martha Solomons: The slave’s daughter and Countess of Stamford who made my life possible

by Karen Williams The question from the Pakistani government minister was not unfamiliar to me: “And what are you, are you a Zulu?” It was my early days in Islamabad and the official’s gentle ribbing was a common question. Yet this time, I was speechless. Floundering, I grasped at half-sentences, well aware that people around… Read More

The South African Clapback

Caster Semenya: History Maker by Kiri Kankhwende She’s dangerous on the bend. Like Usain Bolt, Caster Semenya tends to surge past her opponents just as they have reached their physical limits, rounding the final turn into the last 100 metres of the race, before charging ahead to win. At some point, Semenya is expected to… Read More

A queer history: South Africa’s KhoiKhoi in Australia

by Karen Williams The last man executed for sodomy in Australia in 1863 was an indigenous black South African soldier. He was one of hundreds of mainly African and Asian indigenous and enslaved people transported from Africa’s south and its surrounding islands to the new settlement in New South Wales and Tasmania. Also in Australia… Read More

Thisgingnio: South Africa’s only Chinese woman prisoner

by Karen Williams  Although Chinese men made up the main contingent of prisoners that the Dutch East India Company (the VOC) held in South Africa, one Chinese woman prisoner has been documented. Thisgingnio1 was from Cirebon in Indonesia and she arrived in Cape Town on 9 April 1747. There is no information on her crime… Read More

Chained and enslaved: Early Chinese prisoners in South Africa

by Karen Williams   In 1705 a gang of Chinese slaves were caught robbing the burghers at night. When interrogated, it was discovered that they escaped from the (Slave) Lodge by forming a human pyramid in the courtyard to escape over the roof. – The Dutch East Indian Company’s Slave Lodge at the Cape, by Helene… Read More

Where were South Africa’s enslaved people from?

by Karen Williams  Slavery in South Africa began at the same time as colonisation in 1652, when Jan van Riebeeck, the representative of the Dutch East India Company (the VOC), arrived in Cape Town to set up a refreshment station. Van Riebeeck arrived with two slave girls from “Abyssinia” (Ethiopia). But Van Riebeeck’s arrival did… Read More

Separate is not equal: A personal reflection on South Africa’s LGBTI movement

by Karen Williams The issue of gay rights in Africa has been gaining centre-stage, both on the continent and internationally. However, the longtime role and visibility of women and the urban poor in the fight for gay rights in South Africa has been wiped from official narratives, including the histories that are told within the… Read More