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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

After the Rain

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That’s the english translation of the Xhosa song, Nomvula, from  Freshlyground (see previous post).

It’s the best song that I have on constant repeat these days.

Listen and watch on YouTube.


Written by Niall

July 6, 2009 at 9:56 am

Jukebox: Freshlyground

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Good vibe and fun beats from South African band Freshlyground. I’m looking forward to downloading the full albums.

Shashank Bengali writes a positive review from the 10th Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

One of the big draws was a young South African pop group called Freshlyground. A racially diverse group that mixes R&B, jazz and pop sounds — some record stores don’t seem to know in which section to stock their two successful albums — they’re one of the most popular homegrown bands today. After their set on Friday, when an announcer called their tunes “the soundtrack of a new South Africa,” you couldn’t help but feel he was right.

Written by Niall

April 12, 2009 at 11:13 am

Posted in music, South Africa

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South Africa: Residence permits or Zimbabweans

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Encouraging news this week regarding immigration in South Africa.

Almost a decade into the Zimbabwean crisis, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs is introducing a permit that could regularize the status of thousands of undocumented migrants and put an end to mass deportations as a first step to a long-awaited new policy on a thorny issue.

…The permit will grant thousands of Zimbabweans the right to live and work in South Africa, and access healthcare and education for an initial period of at least six months. The mass deportation of undocumented migrants may be halted.

Globally, immigration is one of the hardest policy items to manage. Action is long overdue in South Africa regarding the influx of Zimbabweans, but this policy response is nevertheless and encouraging sign. What happens after South African elections and after the end of the “initial period of at least six months” is yet to be known. Here’s hoping for a continuation of inclusive policies.

Written by Niall

April 12, 2009 at 10:25 am

Arenavirus hoped to be contained

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Few things scare me more than diseases the kill people by way of blood hemorrhaging. So, I really hope that we can be as optimistic as this story.

Deadly New Virus Thought to Be Contained in Southern Africa

Written by Niall

November 11, 2008 at 5:37 am

Posted in South Africa, Zambia

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Buried in debt

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A new NBER paper on funerals in South Africa.

We find that, on average, households spend the equivalent of a year’s income for an adult’s funeral, measured at median per capita African (Black) income. Approximately one-quarter of all individuals had some form of insurance, which helped surviving household members defray some fraction of funeral expenses. However, an equal fraction of households borrowed money to pay for the funeral. We develop a model, consistent with ethnographic work in this area, in which households respond to social pressure to bury their dead in a style consistent with the observed social status of the household and that of the deceased. Households that cannot afford a funeral commensurate with social expectations must borrow money to pay for the funeral.

In light of increased death rates due to AIDS, these findings are troubling:

These results do not lead us to optimism on the impact of the AIDS crisis on the future economic wellbeing of South Africans…we add evidence that households are taking what, in other circumstances, could be productive capital and using it on coffins, meat and groceries to bury their dead.

Written by Niall

November 9, 2008 at 7:39 pm

Es’kia Mphahlele

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It is often sad how death expands one’s reading list. I, however, look forward to finding a copy of Es’kia Mphahlele’s Down Second Avenue

From the New York Times:

In an essay in The Star, a Johannesburg newspaper, the journalist and editor Barney Mthombothi wrote, “If Nelson Mandela is our political star, Mphahlele was his literary equivalent.”

Other works that have been added to my desired reads are: The Wanderers, Voices in the Whirlwind, and Afrika My Music.

Written by Niall

November 1, 2008 at 1:58 am

From the Bookshelf: July’s People

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I recently finished reading Nadine Gordimer’s July’s People, a book about Apartheid South Africa in 1980. This is the first Gordimer book that I have read. I was enthralled by her prose. The story itself is slow moving but provides a sobering glimpse into racial and cultural relations in Africa. It is as relevant today as when written. 

Here are a few of my favorite quotations from the book.

On the emotional reaction of a white woman moving to a black African village:

But the transport of a novel, the false awareness of being within another time, place and life that was the pleasure of reading, for her, was not possible. She was in another time, place, consciousness; it pressed in upon her and filled her as someone’s breath fills a balloon’s shape. She was already not what she was. No fiction could compete with what she was finding she did not know, could not have imagined or discovered through imagination.

On domicile life in the village:

The hearth-fire that filled the hut with smoke was the centre of being; children, fowls, dogs, kittens came as near to it as the heirarchy of their existence allowed. THe warmth that food brought – blood chafing into life – came from it, where the clinkers of wood, transparent with heat, made porridge bubble vigour.

Written by Niall

October 19, 2008 at 3:25 am