leigh-ann naidoo – hallucinations (17 august 2016)

leigh-ann naidoo

Photo: Paul Botes, M&G

“Quite simply – and this is what I wish to discuss tonight in relation to the question of rage and violence – we are living in different times. Or at least, our time is disjointed, out of sync, plagued by a generational fault line that scrambles historicity.

“The spectre of revolution, of radical change, is in young peoples’ minds and politics, and it is almost nowhere in the politics of the anti-apartheid generation. In fact, even as they criticised young people just five years earlier for being apathetic and depoliticized, they have now thought student activists misguided, uninformed, and mad.

“You would think that it might be possible to resolve this difference in time by means of a careful reading of what is called the ‘objective conditions for revolution’: are we in fact in a time in which revolution is immanent? No matter the subjective experience of time – there must be a way of determining who has the better bearing on history, who can tell the time. What time is it? Yet to tell the time is a complex matter in this society.

“We are, to some degree, post-apartheid, but in many ways not at all. We are living in a democracy that is at the same time violently, pathologically unequal. Protest action against the government – huge amounts of it, what in most other places would signal the beginning of radical change – often flips into a clamour for favour from that very government. Our vacillations, contradictions and anachronisms are indication that what time it is, is open to interpretation.

“I want to argue that the comrades I have worked with in the student movement are not so much mad as they are time-travellers. Or rather, that their particular, beautiful madness is to have recognised and exploited the ambivalence of our historical moment to push into the future. They have been working on the project of historical dissonance, of clarifying the untenable status quo of the present by forcing an awareness of a time when things are not this way. They have seen things many have yet to see. They have been experimenting with hallucinating a new time…”

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Read the rest of this paper, delivered at the 13th annual Ruth First Memorial Lecture at Wits University in Johannesburg last night.

for the “treasonous”, the belville 6 – by ameera conrad

image

Outside Parliament, 21 October, 2015. Photo: Imraan Christian

He stood in front of us
held his palms up
be calm comrades
sit down comrades
do not do anything to antagonise them
Comrades.
They knew his face, though we could not see him between the arms of a chokehold.

He sat on the floor among us
legs crossed under him
Senzeni na?
Senzeni na?
They stunned us, clicked tazers.
White-police-coward-not-man
pulled him out and away.
Another chokehold.

He fell to the floor
when the first grenade cracked
through the crowd.
Pulled up and bashed against shields
holding his burned face
dragged across the gravel.
Senzeni na?

He sat on the steps
quietly
consoling comrades
away from the crowd
They ripped him to his feet
he showed his empty palms
into the back of a van.
No fists.
Empty palms.

He held his hands over his head.
He held his empty hands over his head.
He held his open palms over his head.
He held his head.