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South Africa’s workers movement on fire – the Durban strikes of 1973

In 1973, fifty years ago, South Africa experienced a historical turning point. From 9 January 1973, workers of the Coronation Brick and Tile factory in Durban came out on strike. Heike Becker writes about how workers made their demands heard. The Durban strikes in 1973 were the first public mass action in South Africa since the anti-apartheid activism of the 1950s.

‘A Curt Farewell’: decolonizing public space in Namibia

At the end of October this year a decision was made in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, to remove the statue of a colonial officer – the purported founder of the city. Heike Becker describes the extraordinary activist campaign to decolonialise public spaces in the country.

Rosa Speaks – beyond, and against, the conventional

Heike Becker reviews a book, Creolizing Rosa Luxemburg, which speaks to a generation of anti-colonial activists, from Cape Town to Cairo, London and Berlin, who are using a new language of decoloniality, with which they claim radical humanity in struggle and theory. The heart of the book puts Rosa in conversation with thinkers of the Black radical tradition.

Germany’s Namibia Genocide Apology: the limits of decolonizing the past

Heike Becker writes about the recent agreement between the German and Namibian governments for special “reconciliation and reconstruction” projects to benefit the Ovaherero and Nama communities that were directly affected by colonial genocide. Becker asks what are the possible international ramifications of the Namibian-German agreement? Will the deal possibly turn the tide more broadly for reparation claims from ex-colonies of the empires of European colonialism?

A Country on Fire: Protests in Namibia

Namibia celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of its independence from South Africa in March 2020, today the country is on fire. Heike Becker writes about the Namibian activists, students, working youth, and artists who have taken to the streets of Windhoek and other towns in the past few weeks.

Creative Energy Unleashed: Black Lives Matter and Decolonisation

Heike Becker reflects on the Black Lives Matter movement on the continent, the development of radical art and how institutionalized racism and its root – capitalism – continue to kneel on all our necks.

Black Lives Matter – views from Africa

The murder of George Floyd has triggered giant protests around the world. Demonstrations in Africa have been much smaller, with tens or at best hundreds of protesters on the streets. Baba Aye, Lai Brown, Heike Becker and Sabatho Nyamsenda reflect on the Black Lives Matter movement on the continent, the development of radical art and how institutionalised racism and its root – capitalism – continue to kneel on all our necks.

From Johannesburg to London: student-worker struggles

In 2015 and 2016 students at South African universities campaigned under the banner #FeesMustFall for the abolition of tuition fees. Little public attention however has been paid to the alliances of students and workers in parallel #EndOutsourcing campaigns for fair labour practices for all university workers. Heike Becker asks what were the trajectories of the student-worker movements for insourcing of all workers at public institutions of higher learning? And what did they have in common with similar campaigns that arose at the same time also at universities in the United Kingdom?

The Black Model – Decolonising Artistic Knowledge Production

Heike Becker reflects on an exhibition that foregrounded black subjects in 19th and early 20th century art. The exhibition restored the identities of the black models, often naming them for the very first time. Heike challenges us to face head-on the colonising act of invisibilising the black subject and fieldworker, without whose contributions the celebrated cultural and intellectual accomplishments of ‘Western’ scholars and artists would not have been possible.

Keeper of the Truth: Claude Lanzmann and Frantz Fanon

Heike Becker writes about Claude Lanzmann’s close encounter with Frantz Fanon in 1961, and his fierce anti-colonial activism. Becker argues that we must remember the French filmmaker for more than his engagement with the European holocaust experience and his controversial support of Israel. Lanzmann took an ardent anti-colonialist stand against France’s colonial war in Algeria.