6 March 2008

Some Of Our Own

Today we feature writers we can in some way call our own. We need them all and we need more like them, and unlike them.

Cheche Selepe is a writer, an editor and the founder of many publications, and a Sowetan of the Sowetans. His good new essay on Class and Race (linked below) is a guide to the perplexed, as writing always has the potential to be. With it, we have a chance. Without it we are going nowhere.

Andile Mngxitama hits hard and never seems to tire. His “beat” is the vast poverty of the rural areas of South Africa, out of sight to the urbans, and if not for the likes of Mngxitama, mostly out of mind, too. See the second link.

Neva Makgetla, formerly with COSATU, now with the Presidency, is nobody’s cat’s-paw. Somebody with “integrity” is somebody who would say the same, whether she worked for one or the other or neither. That’s what Cde Makgetla is like. In the third linked item below she tells some bitter truths. 95% of food is produced by only 45,000 commercial farmers, mostly white. BEE aims to create only 10,000 black commercial farmers. What about the millions of poor peasants, landless people, and unemployed? How can empowerment become broad-based, in practice? Makgetla does not spare us from the difficult truth.

Mike Marqusee is a writer who lives in London, England, although born in the USA. He used to live in the suburb of Hornsey, near where many South African exiles also used to live before 1990. We knew him. He was a comrade. But we also didn’t know him enough. There was much more to him than we knew. The extract from his latest book, called “The first time I was called a self-hating Jew”, linked below, is something to read and to remember for the rest of your life. It is a window on the world to show how history is made by ordinary people. Some of them are all too ordinary. Others are extra-ordinary, like Cde Mike (pictures above).

Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, President of the ANC, has made a set-piece speech, to mainly Jewish people, as it happens. Cde JZ has shown extraordinary courage to push on to where he is now, while mad things rushed at him from all sides. This speech looks ordinary. It looks like a pot-boiler, a check-list, or a tick-box form. It may unfortunately be the shapelessness of things to come. Why are we marking time? Read the full speech by clicking below.

Lesiba Seshoka is the spokesperson of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). As such, he is one of those who gets the stories to the journalists, who then write up the stories under their own by-lines. Nor does Cde Seshoka hestitate to put the name of the local source above his own. He is happy to let the quality of his work speak for itself. The linked NUM release is one truly shocking, almost unbelievable story. A clinic, where dead bodies are found buried in the yard?

Click on these links:

Class and Race, Cheche Selepe (1126 words)

Reconciliation without justice, Andile Mngxitama, City Press (640 words)

Land reform plans do not get to root of rural ills, Makgetla, B Day (619 words)

The first time I was called a self-hating Jew, Mike Marqusee, Guardian (3402 words)

Zuma on the state of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, Politicsweb (1632 words)

Workers shocked at human remains discovery at Assmang, NUM (157 words)

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