South African Land Reform for What?
Land and Inequality / Southern Africa

South African Land Reform for What?

On June 30, South African President Jacob Zuma signed legislation re-opening the process of land restitution in South Africa. After the democratic transition in 1994, the South African government had made plans to compensate people who had been forcibly removed from their land, because of the racist land policies enacted in the twentieth century. Land in South Africa is about more than just economics. It is about homes and history, identity and justice. But it might also be time to think beyond land redistribution and towards other kinds of economic restitution. Continue reading

African Agency: Nelson Mandela and the South African Communist Party
Cold War / Contested History and Memory / Southern Africa

African Agency: Nelson Mandela and the South African Communist Party

Since Mandela’s death, contemporary politics, remembrance, and debates have pivoted on whether or not Mandela was a Communist. In an article entitled, “Was Madiba Co-Opted into Communism?” Hugh MacMillan defiantly argues with Stephen Ellis, whose remarks that Mandela was a Communist and that the ANC had been hiding this reality sparked controversy. While only Mandela will truly know whether he was a “Communist” or not, this post will show what the general implications of Ellis’ work have been. Continue reading

Gender / Health and Disease / Horn of Africa

Women’s Economic Empowerment and Reproductive Freedom in Africa

Many international women’s organizations continue to pour an enormous amount of energy and resources into defending abortion rights and promoting contraception. Unfortunately, many forge alliances with population control advocates who prioritize limiting births over women’s general health, while callously dismissing resistance to “family planning” as evidence of Africa’s cultural backwardness. However, the problem of unsafe abortions can only be adequately addressed by a holistic approach to sexual and reproductive health that goes beyond discretely addressing women’s rights to a safe abortion and contraception to include women’s rights to economic resources. Continue reading

Africa and Western World / Military Interventions / Religion, Spirituality, and the Supernatural / Southern Africa

Of Witches and Drones and How We (All) Normalize Violence

The basic logic governing the use of drones and of witchcraft accusations is not as different as many Americans might like to think. Why do so many of us accept the use of drones? Because we believe that people are plotting to harm us, and we do not want ourselves or our loved ones to get hurt. Why do some Africans kill people believed to be witches? Because they believe that people are plotting to harm them, and they do not want themselves or their loved ones to get hurt. However, in the US, many of us have the luxury of expecting violence to be distant and rare. Continue reading