Antjie Krog and the role of the poet in South Africa’s public life

When South African writer Antjie Krog was just 17, she wrote a poem for her school magazine which was shocking enough to upset Kroonstad High’s parents. The furore caught the attention of the Sunday newspapers, who descended on the town in the Free State province.

The legacy of Nigerian music star Orlando Julius must not be overlooked

If there is one musician as commonly associated as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti with the West African musical movements Afrobeat and Afrobeats (never mind Afro-Blues and Afro-Soul), this is the preserve of Orlando Julius Ekemode. Given Fela’s immense stature it would seem impossible to speak of another musician from whom he gained musical direction. Yet, one must, in the case of his fellow multi-instrumentalist Orlando Julius.

Rising atmospheric CO₂ may benefit maize crops: first experiment in African conditions

Global maize production is worth billions of dollars annually and is key to global food security because it’s a staple food for billions of people. Most maize production relies on natural rainfall, making it vulnerable to changing rainfall patterns.

A street art mural in Zimbabwe exposes a divided society

The Shona and the Ndebele are Zimbabwe’s two most dominant ethnic groups. Explaining the ever-present tension between them, historian Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni points to the abuse of the post-colonial state by the ruling Shona-dominated government “in its drive to destroy Ndebele particularism”. He explains, “This sets in motion the current Matabeleland politics of alienation, resentment and grievance.”

Ramaphosa: Reminded, lobbied and plotted against

President Cyril Ramaphosa has had a busy month, and the list of things that have occupied his mind includes much more than high-profile matters like ending the National State of Disaster.

From Nigeria to the world: Afrobeats is having a global moment

Another Grammy Awards season and there is a growing list of African nominees. For African music enthusiasts, it is heartwarming that recognition is being accorded to practitioners in the Afrobeats space.

Coalition negotiations: A sidelined ANC, a surprised DA and a demanding EFF

South Africa’s coalition negotiations after the November 2021 election were full of unexpected plot twists. November’s news reporting reveals clear, almost cartoonish characterisations of our largest three parties emerging from a backdrop of extremely complex negotiations and a soap-opera-worthy web of love-hate relationships.

South Africa’s anti-corruption busters: short-changed on funding and political commitment

The word corruption has its roots in the Latin adjective corruptus which refers to something that is spoiled, corrupted or perverted. In South Africa, evidence of the perversion of public funds abounds. In his 2021 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement the country’s finance minister Enoch Godongwana warned that rampant corruption was a persistent issue draining public finances.

South Africa’s massive ‘sardine run’ leads fish into an ecological trap

One of the world’s most spectacular marine migrations is the KwaZulu-Natal sardine run. The so-called “greatest shoal on Earth” takes place during the southern hemisphere’s winter. It involves the movement of tens to hundreds of millions of sardines from the warm-temperate waters of South Africa’s south coast to the subtropical waters of the east coast, over a thousand kilometres away.

South Africa’s universities are adopting an international lens: why it matters

South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training released a policy framework in 2020 to enhance the sector’s effort towards internationalisation. The Conversation’s Nontobeko Mtshali asked Orla Quinlan to share her insights.

South African universities have taken to online teaching: but it can’t be permanent

The uptake of educational technology in South Africa’s higher education sector has been highly uneven and very slow. Before the pandemic, most courses offered in South African universities had some form of Learning Management System presence. Students could access course guides and readings, upload their assignments, and possibly communicate with their lecturer and peers via forums. But beyond that, many academics seemed to resist making use of the technology, even though it could allow for greater engagement and interactive learning.

Household gardeners in South Africa: a survivalist life with little protection

The informal sector makes significant contributions to the national economies of most global South countries. In South Africa it constitutes 15% to 30% of all employment.

South Africa has failed to champion human rights in the world. But that’s changing

The story of democratic South Africa and its approach to human rights in the rest of the world is a tale of woe. For two-and-a-half decades, its foreign policy mostly failed to defend internationally – and quite often contradicted – the human rights principles contained in its constitution.

Colonial legacies shape urban nature: why this should change

Being in nature has benefits for people, as studies have shown. There’s ample evidence that experiences of nature have positive physical and psychological outcomes. But these insights have largely come from the Global North. There’s very little research on how urban communities in the Global South experience or view urban nature.

The South African play that’s tackling the scourge of the street drug whoonga

The drug whoonga has plagued South African communities for at least a decade, yet only gained significant public attention when it appeared more visibly in the inner-city and surrounding suburbs of Durban, the major city in the country’s KwaZulu-Natal province.

South Africa’s draft procurement bill falls short of what’s required to fight corruption

Public procurement is the single largest corruption risk, particularly in developing countries. Transparency International estimates that governments in low- and middle-income countries spend about 50% of public funds buying goods and services from the private sector. This compares with just 30% in high-income countries.

South African high court prohibits Muslim call to prayer. Why it got it wrong

The High Court in Durban, the port city in KwaZulu-Natal on the east coast of South Africa, has granted an interdict against a mosque, stopping its call to prayer (the athaan or adhan) because it can be heard from a neighbour’s house across the street.

Paying commission to academics reduces the value of research

Many universities around the world pay academics to publish their research. Our recent study in South Africa, though, suggests they should be cautious of such practices.

University rankings don’t measure what matters

International rankings of universities are big business and big news. These systems order universities on the basis of a variety of criteria such as student to staff ratio, income from industry, and reputation as captured through public surveys.

South African cops need linguistic training – urgently

If you have been the victim of a crime, one of the first interactions you’ll have with police is when an officer takes your sworn statement. Language is key to this process: you tell an officer your story, and they record it, usually writing it by hand.

Why the world needs to ensure wild species are used sustainably

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a worldwide crisis of food insecurity and unemployment. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns of rising hunger and poverty.

The arrival of British settlers 200 years ago continues to cast a shadow over South Africa

Two hundred years ago 5,000 people from Britain were settled in the south eastern part of South Africa in an area around present-day Makhanda and Port Alfred, then called the ‘Zuurveld’, by the British colonial authorities. To some South Africans (and particularly to many of their descendants) they are heroised as having brought development and ‘civilization’ to the area.

Why using just one language in South Africa’s courts is a problem

Language is a crucial element of any criminal justice system. Forensic linguist David Wright has written that people find themselves in the judicial system’s linguistic webs at every step of the legal process.

Lagos is getting less rain, but more heavy storms. What it can do to prepare.

Lagos State can expect to experience 270 days of rainfall in 2020. Many Lagosians who suffered from the 2012 and 2017 devastating flooding are wondering whether this is usual or not. Nelson Odume unpacks the issues.

Forensic linguists explore how emojis can be used as evidence in court

Emojis have become ubiquitous in text communication – messages are peppered with smiley faces, hearts and other graphic icons. They were first drawn by graphic designer Shigetaka Kurita, and generated by a Japanese communications firm called NTT DoCoMo in the late 1990s. Now they’re everywhere.

Corruption in South Africa: echoes of leaders who plundered their countries

One of the shameful achievements of the African National Congress (ANC) in its 25 years of governing post-apartheid South Africa is that it’s living up to the political stereotype of what is wrong with post-colonial Africa – unethical and corrupt African leaders who exercise power through patronage.

How international trade can unlock the potential of the cultural economy in developing countries

There is growing interest in the creative economy in emerging markets in terms of its impact on employment and economic growth, as well as social and cultural impacts.

We are using computer models to fight drug resistance

The infectious disease burden in Africa is very high, particularly for tuberculosis (TB), malaria and HIV/AIDS. In 2018, nearly a quarter (24%) of TB cases in the world were in Africa. The region accounted for 93% of malaria cases. The continent also bears the brunt of the HIV epidemic: 20.6 million of the 37.9 million people living with HIV are in eastern and southern Africa.

South Africa takes steps to assure the quality of its doctorates

Around the world there has been a massive increase in demand for doctoral education. This mostly stems from the idea that the “knowledge economy” requires high-level skills.

SA government needs private-sector assistance

WHEN governments run out of money, the consequences are usually very painful. To reduce spending to what is affordable

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