Saturday, May 24, 2008

Umshini Wami

It's perhaps too easy to simply blame the outbreak of xenophobic violence in South Africa last week on people's being riled up, and finally provoked to action by war-songs. It just sounds too much like the contact-era fantasies of European explorers encountering "fierce Zulu warriors" gaining strength from "savage songs and dances" to be really something one can take at face value (Christine Lucia's book The World of South African Music: A Reader reproduces some of these early writings on first contacts between Africans and Europeans in South Africa). And of course, the history of the song in question is much more complicated than the title alone, or it's connection to Jacob Zuma makes clear. But my interest was peaked when the Mail and Guardian yesterday drew the apparently obvious connection between xenophobic attackers singing Zuma's signature tune, and the ANC president's comments about dealing with the influx of foreigners. And no one even mentions the sexual suggestiveness of a song in which the "machine" in question is overtly phallic, and representative of the type of masculine aggression and power that got Zuma into trouble not too long ago.

Friday, May 02, 2008

long time - still hanging in there

It has been a long time since I've updated. And while I don't like blog posts that are excuses for why one hasn't posted in ages, I kind of think I have a good excuse: Comprehensive Exams!!!!
I wrote them last weekend (Friday to Monday), and am waiting to hear my results. But they are done, and out of the way, and now I have three pieces of writing to complete in lieu of finals, and then my parents arrive on Saturday next week for a three week visit. It has been so long since I last saw them, and I'm really looking forward to having them here. I'll try to keep this blog regularly updated then with our doings.
In the mean time, though, here is a nice little documentary on the Stonewall Chorale, that gives you a taste of one of the things I've been up to this year.
I cannot believe the academic year is practically over! One more year of course work left. That's a scary thought.