Another World

By Duane Jethro. I cut in the queue to buy cigarettes. The big guy behind me approaches and says, “sorry but I was in front of you”. I let him pass. But he’s not content. He turns and says, “don’t be like the Dutch they were like that. They exterminated all the indigenous people. Just look at Holland, its all flat, indicative of the flat, all conquering mindset of the people that live there”. A short, stocky dude, he’s clutching a pack of salt, rice and milk. I wonder where he comes from. “You should be more like the Spanish” …

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Blackening Up for the Festive Season

As in earlier years, the controversy on the significance of the figure of ‘zwarte piet’ cropped up again. On those earlier occasions, we have posted both blogs arguing in favor of the ‘tender Dutch tradition’, and blogs stating that the arguments about the ‘innocent custom’ simply won’t do. This year we again, simultaneously, publish two contributions, by Duane Jethro and Rhoda Woets, questioning the guiltless-ness of the figure of zware piet. By Duane Jethro  It is that time of year again when, slowly, the Netherlands is being invaded by those loveable effigies of dark-skinned, red-lipped ZwartePieten. From Albert Hein to …

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Having Your Boerewors Roll and Eating it

By Duane Jethro  The 24th of September marked Heritage Day in South Africa. Inaugurated in 1996, the state figured this public holiday would afford South Africans the opportunity to critically reflect on the post-apartheid nation’s rich cultural heritage and diversity. Responding to this implicit appeal, on the 24th of September 2005, the Mzansi Braai Institute initiated the idea of reframing Heritage Day as being a celebration of the braai, or barbeque.

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Who is Shooting Who in South Africa?

By Duane Jethro Ryan Anderson, writing for the anthropology blog Savage Minds, recently raised the question of the usefulness of authenticity as a methodological tool in the social sciences. Invoking Edward Bruner’s observation that, “authenticity is a red herring, to be examined only when tourists, the locals, or the producers themselves use the term” (Culture on Tour, 2005:5), Anderson argues that authenticity can be constructive in so far as it opens up possibilities for “empirical investigation [into] how different people create and imagine what is and what is not authentic”. Drawing on the controversial case of the Damon Winter’s manipulated …

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Reading a Post-Apartheid Memorial

  Photo by April Killingsworth Duane Jethro Sunday 8 August, 2010: I am on an expedition to find an elusive Sunday Times memorial in Soweto, Johannesburg. On the way, I drive through Vilakazi Street, passing by Nelson Mandela’s former home. It has been transformed into a museum. The precinct surrounding his former domicile is teeming with tourists and a host of locals plying a range of different commercial strategies aimed at cashing in on the spoils of the heritage venture. Further along the way, I pass the monumental Hector Pieterson Memorial and Media Centre, another heritage project erected during the post-apartheid …

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World Cup Mania: Beyond the vuvuzela

By Duane Jethro Since the conclusion of the World Cup, questions have been raised about what could be done with the vuvuzelas accumulated during the tournament. In response, the renowned South African cartoonist Zapiro offered a few creative, novel suggestions in one of his weekly sketches for the Sunday Times. These included deafened fans using their vuvuzelas as a hearing aid, following Paris Hilton’s lead and using it as a cannabis pipe, or as the case may be with recently sacked coach Raymond Domenech, using it as a receptacle for collecting change from the public while begging on the street. …

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World Cup Mania: Feel the Gees

By Duane Jethro The car company Hyundai has come up with a solution for those whom the expression “Feel It. It Is Here” has no real emotive purchase. In support of their slogan for the World Cup, “We bring the Gees”, the company has erected a 37 metre long vuvuzela on an abandoned flyover in Cape Town’s city centre. To affirm their commitment to pumping up the World Cup spirit, the instrument is not merely a striking piece of visual advertising, but sonically brings the company slogan to life as a fully operational noise making instrument. Intended to be sounded …

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World Cup Mania: Talking about Culture

By Duane Jethro Culture is on everybody’s lips. Another game at the fan park: Spain vs Switzerland, if I remember correctly. Cold beer in hand, I am engaging in conversation with a middle-aged gentleman about the World Cup vibe. It’s a chilly, grey day and the sparse crowd is quiet, subdued, passively absorbing Spain’s demise. Minutes later, a group of about 10 or so excited Bafana Bafana supporters congregate in my vicinity and start generating some gees. They sing popular local songs in isiXhosa, and blow their vuvuzelas in time to the tune, all the while drawing foreign bystanders into …

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World Cup Mania: Ke nako, feel it is here!

By Duane Jethro Ke Nako is a Sotho phrase that roughly translates into “it is here” or “it is time”. Playing on this traditional term, the South African Broadcasting Corporation sought to tap into the charged feelings of anticipation and excitement with the prospect of the looming World Cup, with its own slogan, Feel It is Here. On June 11th, 2010, it arrived. The day marked a watershed moment in South Africa’s history, as the nation celebrated the opening of the highly anticipated FIFA 2010 World Cup™, to be staged on home soil. World Cup day, as it may be …

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World Cup Mania: what’s the vuvuzela about?

In our new series on the Football World Cup, Duane Jethro will regularly report from South Africa. Duane is currently doing his PhD research in his home-country, looking at cultural heritage initiatives in the post-apartheid era. The World Cup, with its articulations of a (putative) South African authentic culture, has become an important site of Duane’s investigations. In this first part of the series we’ll reproduce Duane’s report on the festivities in the context of the World Cup’s final draw, in which he discusses an object that has recently become somewhat controversial in the Netherlands: the vuvuzela. What does the …

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