More than three years after the death of South Africa’s first democratic president, Nelson Mandela, this issue of The Black Scholar offers a rich set of perspectives on the state of studying blackness from and in South Africa today. Edited by Christopher Ouma, Litheko Modisane, and Victoria J. Collis-Buthelezi, After Madiba takes as its point of genesis the facts and fiction that surround Mandela as the first leader of a democratic, post-apartheid/postcolonial South Africa and the ways in which these shaped and informed the transition years. Taken together, this issue offers reflections on the legacies, heritages, and intellectual traditions out of which Nelson Mandela arose, their futures, and the emerging fault lines of South Africa, post 1994. Such fault lines include but are not limited to: xenophobia, citizenship, the rainbow nation, humanism, and peace.
This issue also speaks to challenges to South Africa’s efforts to re-imagine itself into Africa, its diasporas, and the global order of late capitalism that largely stem from the ways in which it is invoked and imagined by the rest of the continent and its diasporas. The issue therefore takes seriously the project of South Africa after apartheid as produced through the intersection of various postcolonial temporalities—continental and diasporic. At the same time it considers the need for South Africa’s postcoloniality to be consciously read, not just in its distinctively late entry in relation to the continent or African diasporas, or the peculiarities of its “post-apartheid” categorizations, but also as already prefigured in the raced archives of the eras of colonialism, segregation and apartheid, and in the Black intellectual histories generated during these periods which resonate and reverberate in contemporary South Africa’s constructions of citizenship in relation to blackness.
Though not limited to these, this issue places at its center several questions: What does it mean to study Black cultures in or from South Africa today? What is the status of blackness as a category of social, political, or economic signification in the wake of Nelson Mandela? Finally, is there a need for a theory and practice in and of Black cultural studies in contemporary South Africa?
For a limited time, download and read the introduction, Black Studies, South Africa, and the Mythology of Mandela and Beyond the Elder Statesman: Reflections on Teaching About Mandela and South Africa in Neo-liberal Times for free.
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