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Last Updated 28-03-2013

The English Academy of Southern Africa Award Letter to Mothobi Mutloatse - view

Dear reader.
This is a group photo comprising my hosts, representatives of the Mauritian ICTA and IBA, following the presentation
of DMB in general and MobileTV in particular. Seryerla.

Regards, Mothobi

Transmitter in Port Louis

u livre Confluences 2013

Dear, reader.

Back home after the exhaustive trip last week to attend the international book fair in Ile Maurice - aha, got you - Island of Mauritius.

The highlights are captured herein most passionately, at the  book stand of fair the SA High Commission led by ambassador Dr Nomvuyo Nokwe, seen here with me,  minutes after receiving a surprise visit from Prime Minister of Mauritius, Dr Navin Ramgoolan, with a Press entourage in tow, some of whom afterwards complained of the event being only government without NGO support. (It appears from a cursory reading of the newspapers that there is a love-hate relationship prevailing); staying for more than five minutes chatting about SA generally and Mr Nelson Madiba particularly, and in the end receiving a copy of the Madiba book. He had met Madiba during his visit to Port Louis as president and therefore was evidently elated at this gift, flipping through it in admiration. The pop-up banner of Madiba did it, with young and old, men and women, coming to touch the Man of the People photographic book by Peter Magubane, and to talk of how Madiba had touched them 'He's a great man'. ' A wonderful man.' 'He's one of a kind.' One man went so far as to say:' Mr Mandela came out of prison and spoke of reconciliation. He easily could have said;"Let us kill all the bastards." He did not, and that is what I find extraordinary about him.' Madiba is the face of not only humanity, he is seen in far-flung places to even straddle faiths and denominations. WHETHER THE SA GOVT IS AWARE OF THIS IS MOOT. Without Madiba, we appear to be just another country - just another country from the emerging world beset by crime, grime, inequality and seemingly adversarial party political incidents in parliament.

Later on, my adopted Mauritian 'followers', two sets of high school students, from boys-only and girls-only schools, who found each other at our stand! Earlier, the boys had engaged me in conversation to the extent I dared one of the, with the Chinese background, to do instant rap, accompanied by the friend in the cap. After the PM's visit, the girls came over, and began an animated dialogue with me, leading to their leader reading from Viva Tau in English and one of her mates reading the French version, and cheering at the similarity in story-telling.The leader read a poem from Essop Patel's collection, and being asked by yours truly to explain the text, and before she did another girl jumped in to give her interpretation.

Remember, they are French-speaking at school, Hindi and/or Creole at home and English used only as a third language in school, yet they
felt so inspired as to stay for more than 15 minutes, attracting passers-by and surprising their three French teachers who, later on, also asked for a photograph with me! That was not all.

They went to check other stands, and lo and behold, the girls returned - almost to stay. But that was not all. Peeved at seeing at singing the girls taking centre stage, the boys returned too, with  both groups causing a stir among the other bewildered stands, in that they blocked off the surrounding passages in front, on the right and left, and innocently laughing out aloud, cheering and clapping as if at a pop concert. (Yes, after they had left, the lady from the opposite Indira Ghandi Centre came over to congratulate me and ask what I had given to the students to make them so excited. I naively said, exchanged knowledge with them on their level. Also, they wanted to know more about Africa, rather than Europe, India or China. They also wanted to visit SA, Cape Town and Johannesburg some said, while another boy said his father took him along always as he had a jean manufacturing business, which took him regularly to Joburg.

I thought about this long and hard later,  to comprehend it all and slowly began  understood what had happened. The students had allowed me to come into their world as I had treated them as equals and
therefore connected with them.

At one stage, when I had explained the concept of differences, between boys and girls in terms of intelligence and outlook - with the girls claiming they were more intelligent and the boys rebutting this - I used the metaphor of convergence, as in IT. I said in the end harmony is achieved when convergence of two opposites is realised, and then one of the boys blurted:' Let us converge with them now!' and all laughed, and the girl in the last emerged responded that was not what they were interested in as boys were always playful and not serious about anything, to which the boys expressed shock with more laughter.

It so happens that the Chinese boy's mother teaches French to some of the girls! Yes, they now recognised him, they said.

In the end, these Form 4 girls and boys promised me that I should return in February 2015 to Mauritius, and see who would have achieved more distinctions in
their exams than the other groups.

All this was happening with the SA High Commissioner watching in awe.

The trick is: I had learned this ability of communicating with young people based on how my  education psychologist wife Thembi Maletlhogonolo - Lolo we affectionately called her before she became a spirit -  went about her remedial play-therapy processes. Yes, Lolo was with me all the way in my dialogue with with the group of Mauritian high school boys and girls in a way and manner I had not expected and still find baffling. As the saying goes: wonders never cease to amaze. On my return, I learned that Tata had again been admitted to hospital for another routine check-up. Is there a connection to the Mauritian experience in all this as the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory had announced Sello Hatang as its new CEO after Achmat Dangor and I had donated not only books but also the Madiba pop-up banner to the SA Commission in Port Louis? - Regards, Mothobi.

Ntate Mothobi &Alistair: Here are the pictures from the journalist (Sunita Beezadhur). They are beautiful! She took them from strategic angle! Me & Dr. Mutloatse can win a colgate contest! )Ciao Belli. - High Commissioner Dr N Nokwe.

click here to download the writers article (poor scanned quality)


Table of books

Ironically, Gandhi and Mandela in close proxity.

Writer and activist from Reunion island, Ms Shenaz Patel, autographing my copy of her book Dans Mon Soubik: `tizan the Card Player. The iconic headquarters of the indigenous bank MBC.

The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Mr Sello Hatang has been appointed CEO of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.  He will commence his duties on 1 June 2013, succeeding the current CEO Achmat Dangor who is due to retire at the end of June.

Sello Hatang is currently Head of Outreach & Communications, and spokesperson for the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. He played a similar role at the South African Human Rights Commission. He was previously Director of the South African History Archive (SAHA) at Wits University and continues to serve on its Board. He actively promotes dialogue around social justice issues and has published numerous articles on archival theory and practice, memory and justice, access to information, etc.  

We wish to thank all the people who applied for this position and commend Spencer Stuart Ltd for the highly professional and rigorous manner in which they managed the recruitment process. We would also like to thank Achmat Dangor for his sterling 7 years of service and wish him well into the future.

Professor Njabulo S. Ndebele
Acting Chairperson
Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

The navy meets the third generation: Ms Paulina Buyeye, formerly Mohale, gave an impassioned trubute to the late jurist Arthur Chaskalson, who defended her as one of the accused in the famous Pretoria 12 terrorism Trial of 11 men and one woman, 1976-78.

' i was detained, tortured and tried', said Ms Pauline, Force Number 970-967 21, the granddaughter of one of the six survivors of the S S Mendi, Ntate Silas Maredi, who unfortunately, does not appear on the wall of remembrance behind her, she pointed out.

She followed in the footsteps of both her grandfather and father in joining the army, she specifically as an MK cadre, after six of the 12 accused were released while the others got light sentences. Incidentally, the original trial judge suffered a health setback, went into a coma and 'died in December 1977', Ms Pauline explained.

About justice Chaskalson, she said: ' A real saint died...We will always remember him.'

I shall be retelling the Three Generations of S S Mendi families in the compilation of the centenary book. - Mothobi Mutloatse.



Revenge Comes in a Tight Embrace in a South African Tale of Infidelity

‘The Suit’ at Brooklyn Academy of Music

Nonhlanhla Kheswa, left, and William Nadylam portray a couple in “The Suit.”


Published: January 21, 2013

Sometimes a weighty tale is never more affecting than when it’s told lightly. “The Suit,” the wonderful touring production from the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, brims with a gentle effervescence and musicality that you associate with entertainments usually described, a bit dismissively, as charming.

Ms. Kheswa in "The Suit" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Yet even as it draws you in like the gregarious host of an intimate party, this story of adultery in apartheid South Africa is quietly preparing to break your heart. By the time you leave the Harvey Theater of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where “The Suit” runs through Feb. 2, you may feel you’ve experienced devastation by enchantment. The sadness will linger, but so will an elating sense of this show’s enfolding magic.

Such complicated sorcery is all the more potent for its seeming simplicity, a paradox long associated with the great director Peter Brook, who created “The Suit” with his longtime collaborator Marie-Hélène Estienne and the composer Frank Krawczyk. An ever-more-pared-down plainness has marked the path of Mr. Brook’s career, which stretches over more than six decades, embracing pinnacles like his acrobatic “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and his marathon “Mahabharata.”

Sometimes the results are austere to the point of starvation, as in his bare-bones 50-minute version of Dostoyevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor” several years ago. “The Suit” — which is based on a story by the South African writer Can Themba, and its stage adaptation by Mothobi Mutloatse and Barney Simon — is unlikely to leave anyone feeling hungry. It arranges similarly basic theatrical elements — a cast of four performers and three musicians, some chairs and some clothing racks — into a world that brims with juicy, appetizing life.

It’s our awareness of the possibilities for sweetness within that life that lends “The Suit” much of its sting. Its fablelike story unfolds in Sophiatown, a poor but vital suburb of Johannesburg that flourished in the 1940s and ’50s as a center of black culture (especially music) and has since acquired mythic status in South African memory. “The home of truth, our place,” is how the show’s narrator (Jared McNeill) describes it. Within that world live a couple who, when we first see them, wrapped in each other’s arms in bed one rainy morning, would appear to be the very image of marital contentment: Philomen (William Nadylam) and Matilda (Nonhlanhla Kheswa). Both husband and wife deliver separate encomiums, Matilda in soaring song, to the beauty within their existence, despite its privation.

Their Eden collapses that same day. Philomen, having been tipped off by a friend, rushes home from work to find his wife in the arms of a lover (Rikki Henry, in one of many roles), who escapes through the bedroom window in his underwear. His suit is left behind, to become the instrument of Philomen’s whimsical and cruel revenge upon his wife.

I won’t describe the forms that this revenge takes, except to say that the suit becomes an active participant in an unhappy ménage à trois. As Mr. Nadylam executes Philomen’s retribution, with a mix of sorrow and tight-lidded rage, you understand exactly why the narrator has told us earlier that this story could take place only in a land of repression. Like the apartheid-spawned violence and humiliation that the play’s characters trade frightened stories about, the suit casts an inescapable and blighting shadow on Philomen and Matilda’s private world.

This makes “The Suit” sound grim. It isn’t. This is partly a matter of the witty inventiveness of the production, lighted by Philippe Vialatte and designed by Oria Puppo, which creates an entire township from its small cast. (The fine, chameleon musicians — Arthur Astier, Raphael Chambouvet and David Dupuis — help fill out the roster of citizens.)

More important, time and again we feel the exultation that caged birds find in song. It is the great wish of Matilda (whom Ms. Kheswa presents as a ravishing blend of self-possession and perplexity) to become a singer. And when she performs at a women’s club, with the three male actors doing a jaunty backup, you may find tears in your eyes, because the sense of relief is so ecstatic. And because you know it can only be fleeting.

Conversely, when Mr. McNeill performs “Strange Fruit,” the song about lynching in the American South made famous by Billie Holiday, the purity of his voice and directness of his manner transform a ballad of destruction into an enduring victory for art. It’s a promise that though the music may end for Matilda and for Sophiatown — which would be razed soon after “The Suit” takes place — it never truly stops.

Everyone onstage is pretty close to perfect. Well, perhaps not the three additional cast members who are conscripted from the audience to join the show’s climactic party chez Philomen. I can say this because I was one on the night I saw “The Suit.” Normally such participation makes me cringe.

But it’s a testament to the seductive hold of this production that even onstage, amid performers I’d been watching from a comfortable distance, I could forget my embarrassment and focus on them. Up close the illusion remained so utterly intact that when I returned to my seat, I was grateful that I had managed, just barely, to keep myself from shedding tears in a spotlight.

The Suit

Based on “The Suit” by Can Themba, Mothobi Mutloatse and Barney Simon; directed, adapted and music by Peter Brook, Marie-Hélène Estienne and Franck Krawczyk; lighting by Philippe Vialatte; sets and costumes by Oria Puppo; assistant director, Rikki Henry; stage managers, R. Michael Blanco and Thomas Becelewski. A Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord production, presented by Brooklyn Academy of Music, Alan H. Fishman, chairman; Karen Brooks Hopkins, president. At the Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; (718) 636-4100, bam.org. Through Feb. 2. Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes.

WITH: Nonhlanhla Kheswa, Jared McNeill, William Nadylam and Rikki Henry.

A version of this review appeared in print on January 22, 2013, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: Revenge Comes In a Tight Embrace.

Mobile TV's war chest gets a boost - 15-07-2012 Sunday Times Article

Nafcoc invests in Mobile TV

Organised black business group, the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc), has bought a 20% stake in Mobile TV, the television broadcasting start-up founded by Mothobi Mutloatse.

Mobile TV, which has applied for a broadcasting licence from the Independent Communications Authority of SA, plans to introduce mobile television services using Korea’s digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) standard and intends providing the country’s first digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio stations and “visual radio” services, which offer visuals over normal radio broadcasts.

“The new technology that Mobile TV brings into the broadcast sector will deal with the issue of lack of access to information and entertainment in the rural and deep rural areas,” says Lawrence Mavundla, chairman of the newly created investment arm of Nafcoc.

“If one considers the investment required to purchase a set-top box to decode encrypted television signals, it makes complete sense to circumvent the cost and go directly to the mobile technology that is available,” says Mavundla, who will join Mobile TV’s board.

“The business opportunities are endless and the investment decision wasn’t a hard one to make.”

The value of the investment has not been disclosed.

“After 15 months of testing and a temporary licence to refine the technology, Mobile TV is ready for the next round, which includes raising capital and applying for a permanent broadcast licence,” says Mutloatse.

“We will have a combination of aggregated content as well as introducing new channel streams under the brand TVG4U.”  — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media


South African Government statement signals renewed interest in the Wreck of the SS Mendi.

New work on the wreck of the SS Mendi, one of the most famous shipwrecks of the First World War, moved a step closer when the South African Government announced its intent to make the ship a flagship project in their war graves policy.

The Mendi and over 650 men, mainly members of the South African Native Labour Corps were lost in 1917 after a collision off the Isle of Wight, England. Infamously, none of the black servicemen on the Mendi or any other volunteers in the Labour Corps received a British War Medal or a ribbon after the war while their white officers did. Wessex Archaeology undertook the first ever detailed study of the SS Mendi in 2007 when English Heritage funded a desk-based project. A year later a preliminary geophysical survey was supported by the South African Heritage Resources Agency, the UK Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Marine Environment Protection Fund, and English Heritage.

As a result of this work the wreck was given official UK recognition when it was designated by the UK Ministry of Defence under the Protection of Military Remains Act. Despite this status no funds have been available for further work. Speaking in May in the South African Parliament Thabang Makwetla, the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, spoke of the ‘real opportunity to retrieve the full story and gain access to the legendary maritime tragedy of the sinking of the troopship the SS Mendi just five years before we mark the centenary of this occurrence’ in 2017.
In recent months Wessex Archaeology has helped Dr Mothobi Muloaste, the South African playwright, author and publisher, and the British researchers Nick Ward and Jim and Rachel Stapleton in their joint research on the Mendi. This has including a briefing on UK heritage legislations during a visit to Salisbury. Sue Davies OBE, the Chief Executive of Wessex Archaeology said ‘this is a special but tragic story that brings together two nations. At Wessex Archaeology we stand ready to work with the South African Government and its people in their quest to give the men of the Mendi the recognition they deserve.’

The Mutloatse Arts Heritage Trust has announced the ambitious project to commemorate the centennial sinking of the SS Mendi off the Isle of Wight in the English Channel 95 years ago, and also embarks upon the process of having the wreck protected by UNESCO as a South African legacy.

This move would help to stop divers from removing any artifacts from the wreckage with immediately effect, according to the chairman of the trust, Dr. Mothobi Mutloatse.

He states that the Mutloatse Arts Heritage Trust has deliberately chosen this week, on the eve of celebrating 18 years of SA's democracy, to announce the programme called:

“Remembering the SS Mendi: In Search of Freedom 1917-2017”

Said Mutloatse: 'This project is spiritual; cultural; educational and most importantly, of universal human value, for its symbolism in that here were African men who sacrificed their lives to liberate Europeans against the then tyrannical German imperialists, paying the ultimate price along the way, and swallowed by the sea, some of whom after floating as dead bodies for days, and one of them for almost six months before being washed ashore'.

Mutloatse added: 'The irony of it all is that they had left their homes and never touched ground again en route to France even though the ship docked on the west coast of Africa with only the white officers allowed off the ship. Today, about 140 bodies are still trapped in the ship - whatever is left of it - after it was struck by the bigger steam ship SS Darro, which blocked off the escape door.'

Said an emotive Mutloatse: 'was it not the late Ted Sorensen, the great speechwriter who had penned the lines that would give President John Kennedy a global identity: 'Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.’

' It is in this spirit that the MAHT has decided to embark on this arduous five year journey of rediscovery and reclamation. For was it not Amilcar Cabral who had argued; 'A people who free themselves from foreign domination will be free culturally only if, without complexes and without underestimating the importance of positive accretions from the oppressor and other cultures, they return to the upward paths of their own culture.'

'We are indeed returning to our culture, of caring, sharing and reinventing and rediscovering ourselves - by affirming those who came before us; to set the pace; to demonstrate this unique caring spirit of our foremothers and forefathers. The souls who perished on the SS Mendi did not do so for nothing, even if they have been seemingly forgotten, neglected and overlooked since 1994 - yes it is true – and they now beckon us; they would like to return home; return to their source, to paraphrase Cabral.

'They would like to rest among their people and inspire them; show them the true meaning of freedom. And of selfless sacrifice and dedication to the cause of all humanity even though back home they were treated as children of lesser gods' said Mutloatse.

'It is necessary at this time to acknowledge and also express gratitude to the people in England who, without asking anything in return or complement, have kept the memory of the SS Mendi alive, and ensured the wreckage was not forgotten. They are the people MAHT recommends are included in any initiative the SA government adopts to reclaim the SS Mendi collaboratively, after having lodged an official claim with UNESCO, following ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982.

'THESE HEROES ARE: the people at Wessel Archeology, notably the “godfather” of the Mendi, Martin Woodward, and researcher and now my new good friend, Nick Ward.’

‘We aim to go global on this project’, Mutloatse said further. This is an African invitation for all to hear.

'Earlier this week, I made a call at the offices of the Ministry of Defense and Military Veterans, specifically Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla, to verbalise my invite. I await a formal response from Deputy Makwetla so that I can unpack the Five Year Plan of “Remembering the SS Mendi: In Search of the SS Mendi 1917-2017.” Thereafter, shall follow meetings to chart the way forward and commence the steps to return both the souls of the Mendi, together with the wreckage, to South Africa before 21 February 2017, the 100th anniversary of the sinking,' Mutloatse went on to say.

'Obviously, funding is going to a challenge', he said, but added; 'however, just like our freedom struggle, we said we would overcome, noma kanjani. This project is no different; we have no choice. Do we?' he asked rhetorically.

Nation waits with bated breath ...

Sowetan Article | Aug 5, 2011 | Mothobi Mutloatse | 0 comments

IS HISTORY in South Africa about to repeat itself judicially - I mean with reference to the appointment of the new chief justice of the Republic?

LEGAL EAGLE: Judge Dikgang Ernest Moseneke

Or will the Judicial Service Commission throw a spanner in the works? Let me throw the cat among the pigeons.

In the next week or two, South Africa's most guarded secret will have been broadcast for the citizenry to chew - the successor to Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo.

Who will it be this time?

Will we experience the Schreiner curse? Third time unlucky? Don't reach for the thought-police. Relax.

We have been here before, haven't we? I am trying hard not to be vague. Don't pre-judge me yet, pardon the pun.

According to my legal-eagle agent provocateur alter ego, the new chief justice is going to be scrutinised like never before, even unfairly to an extent. Shall I throw my bones and make a prediction? Shall I? Never mind, I intend to regardless.

Historically, the first jurist to experience the chief justice, or rather the chief justice curse, is none other than the brilliant writer - oops - judge, Justice Oliver Deneys Schreiner (1890 - 1980), who was "twice passed over", according to essayist Stephen D Girvin.

The practice then was that on the retirement of the chief justice "the senior judge of appeal was appointed to the post".

Girvin further writes: "With some justification, Schreiner JA has been described as the greatest chief justice South Africa never had".

Evidently, the National Party apartheid government did not trust his "judgment", to subvert the phrase.

Yet history was to repeat itself, this time under the democratic dispensation, when my hero and a disciple of the majestic Bengali poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore, Justice Ismail Mahomed (1931 - 2000), was overlooked.

Aw! Aw! Oh no, not true, I hear you say.

It is true.

So devastating was this chief justice curse that Justice Mahomed suffered what colleagues said was a mortal blow he would never recover from.

Others are emphatic and say it was a heart attack.

Another grouping says the black side had not lobbied sufficiently to ensure the most experienced jurist in Southern Africa at that time was given his moment of glory after all the humiliation he had suffered on the bench as an advocate, especially in the then un-Free and un-Oranged state.

A son of the soil recalls his mother saying: "She reminded me compassionately and quietly that life does impose burdens on each one of us and that when that moment comes we must find an inner strength and tenacity to absorb pain with equanimity."

This son goes on to say truly humbled: "What mattered, my mother often said, is how we emerge from difficult moments."

That was not enough: The philosopher-mother "looked down upon entitlement as the poorer cousin of assuming personal responsibility for the task at hand".

As the late and great people's lawyer Godfrey M Pitje (1917- 1997) would have said proudly: "That's my boy, monna."

The mother's son in question?

None other than Justice Dikgang Ernest Moseneke.

I rest my case, M'Lords and Lady Justices.

  • Mothobi Mutloatse is a writer, publisher and broadcaster.

OR Thambo Book Launch at Killarney Mall




Are you sick and tired of crime and unemployment in South Africa? Buy & try this book of solutions.

 Click above to view the video produced at the launch of Bullets or Ballots in Cape Town at the Table Bay Harbour. (Video Production By: Definition Media)


   What is this book all about?

To order your copy direct ... 


CONTACT Angela at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or on +27 11 833 2294 or mobile +27 83 297 76 79

Mutloate Arts Heritage Trust Awarded: The Rivonia Trial Project 


Heroines of our Liberation Struggle
Heoines of our Liberation Struggle

The Mutloatse Arts Heritage Trust is especially passionate about memorialising the heroines of our liberation struggle, such as our collective mothers Masediba Lilian Ngoyi, nee Matabane, and Helen Beatrice May Joseph, formerly Fennell, as we did in publishing the heritage anthology of the historic The Women's Freedom March of 1956, on the occassion of its golden jubilee (50th) anniversary, in 2006.

Four years later, and 16 years into South Africa's democracy and exactly 54 years after nearly 20 000 abo-Mama, descended peacefully on Pretoria to submit petitions to the erstwhile apartheid regime at the Union Buildings, against the law that forced African women to also carry the dompas, we shall be remembering Mums Ngoyi and Joseph, as the nation declare their shared grave at Avalon Cemetery, Soweto, as a national heritage site.

Malibongwe! Ligamalamakhosikazi. Malibongwe!

Equally important, next year is the centenary of MaNgoyi in  Hereitage Month, on 24 September 2011.

However, few people know that MaNgoyi was related to teacher, poet and musician Moses Mphahlele, who composed the Sesotho companion to Enoch Sontonga, called Morena Boloka Setjhaba sa Heso. Ntate Mphahlele's and MaNgoyi's mothers were two of five sisters! In addition, both Ntate Mphahlele and MaNgoyi trained as teachers at the famous Kilnerton Training Institution outside Pretoria.

To us, Memory is our Heritage, and that is why we wholeheartedly endorse the government's efforts to help us  remember not to forget, as is the case with the declaration of the grave of mothers Ngoyi and joseph, as a national heritage site.

- Mothobi Mutloatse, publisher .


Is heroine Ngoyi forgotten?
Posted in The Sowetan 18 March 2010 ; Mothobi Mutloatse

EXACTLY 30 years ago this week we buried Our Grandmother of the Liberation Struggle, Masediba Lilian Ngoyi, née Mphahlele, then 68, her coffin carried on a horse-drawn cart, before the expiry of her banning order on May 31. For 18 years she had been “imprisoned” in her Soweto home by the apartheid regime. And yet – and it saddens me greatly – not a word or a hint appears to have been uttered in her honour, in this year of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Why, dear comrades? Even the ANC Women’s League has been deafening in its silence. I desperately tried to access its website for guidance. Lo and behold, it was frozen in time in 2009, with its anachronism regarding the national executive committee of 2003, mind you! Exasperated I called its direct landline. I was answered by voicemail. I threw in the towel. I then remembered that to date not a single president of the ANC and of the Republic of South Africa, nor the executive mayor of Johannesburg, or the premier of Gauteng, has ever been to MaNgoyi’s humble abode at 9870b in Nkungu Street, Mzimhlophe. Yet she is a 1982 sitwalandwe- Seaparankoe, the highest award ever to be bestowed on a national hero, or heroine of the African National Congress.

She shares a grave at Avalon Cemetery with her liberation bosom friend, Helen Joseph, a 1992 Isitwalandwe-Seaparankoe. Last year word got out that their grave would be declared a national heritage site. Then echoed the “sound of silence”, to paraphrase Simon and Garfunkel. I care a lot about the heritage she bequeathed to us, because I happen to have been the last journalist to interview her in August 1979. I remembered hers and the gallant 20 000 mothers of the 1956 Women’s Freedom March to Pretoria against the dompas, during the 50th anniversary in 2006. Co-editor Jacqui Masiza and Mum Bertha Gxowa, MP, had organised a prayer day with a visit to MaNgoyi and MaJoseph’s grave.

The Mutloatse Arts Heritage Trust underwrote the costs of the festivities when the sisterhood failed to rise to the occasion. Every day I see MaNgoyi, animated as always, in full flight at a meeting – on my office wall, that is.

Mothobi Mutloatse, Johannesburg

Mothobi Mutloatse, Mpho Makwana, Mpaki Pule & Oupa Ngwenya

FRANK TALK by Mothobi Mutloatse (article published in Sowetan 27 March 2009)

Ho senyehile. Ke diphosophoso. It is a mess. It is a comedy of errors that encapsulated South Africa’s gradual political defacement this week. To say some parts of the government’s approaches to the challenges of the departing SAA chief executive officer Khaya Ngqula and His Holiness the Dalai Lama debacle have been below par is an understatement. Rightly or wrongly, the buck stops with the boss – in this case, the head of state: Ntate Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe. Yes, ntate, you, and you alone. Not the spokesperson or ministers of foreign or home affairs , or even one in the presidency. What really happened? Why? A re there any lessons to be learnt? Or, is the government going to wish away this watershed moment in our fledgling democracy? To assume this storm will die down of its own accord is to make a fatal error we will live to regret, even if it is a decade later. Either you rise to the occasion and take us into your confidence as our father who art on earth, and explain to us holistically. without revealing strategic national security issues, what was the rationale behind the no-issue/non-invitation to the Dalai Lama, and whether you find it difficult in your heart of hearts to acknowledge we “have a problem” of immense proportions, regardless of the fact that it could have been unintended.

Being statesman-like does not necessarily mean capitulating to anyone. However, it requires candour. Because the problem cannot be eliminated by political censorship (our erstwhile apartheid bullies can attest to that). How the Cabinet could have got it wrong – through the actions of the minister in charge of the SAA portfolio – is shocking beyond belief. This debacle is now going to form part of our heritage, albeit negatively. When historians gain access to these archives in two decades, I can imagine the embarrassment the country is going to be saddled with, let alone the ridicule. Ke nako, Mopresidente – it is indeed time to go back to the drawing board in terms of media relations, Mr President. Lead from the front, ntate and roll with the punches. Further spin-doctoring will not do. The genie is already out of the bottle.

• Mutloatse is a writer and publisher

Older articles and News:

Man of the People - by Peter Magubane
Mandela Book

Peter Magubane has spent most of his life documenting the struggle against apartheid, from the township streets to the hallways of power. During this period he came to know Nelson Mandela – first as a young political leader who was making waves throughout the country, and then as an icon of the struggle. Over the years a kinship was forged between two ‘politicians’ – one who spoke with words and actions, the other who spoke with his camera.

Peter subsequently went to visit Mandela in prison on Robben Island, solidifying the relationship between the then future president and the charismatic cameraman. After Mandela was released, Peter was honoured to be selected as the official photographer to chronicle the country’s four-year transition to democracy. As the official photographer, he made the most of the prime positions available to him at the countless photographic opportunities along the road to a new political dispensation. As a result of his position, and his relationship with Mandela, he had unparalleled access to Mandela and his family. The result is a portfolio of fascinating, moving, and often surprising, photographs.

Man of the People is a biography of a fascinating life, told by someone who was privileged to have witnessed it from up close. It is a personal tribute to one of the world’s greatest leaders, from one of its best-known photographers.

Back cover:‘For his bravery and courage during the dark days of apartheid, Peter became a beacon of hope not only to the thousands of journalists all over the world but also to millions of people across our country. His commitment to photojournalism helped pave the way to transformation in South Africa, and such efforts are, needless to say, worthy of international recognition.’ Former President Nelson Mandela on awarding the Order for Meritorious Service to Peter Magubane in 1999. ‘Magubane has been the busiest photographer of our media history… he is a unique lensman, very quick to see a photograph and quite adept at creating one on the spot.

In 1976 I witnessed one of his many arrests, this one near the Orlando East/Noordgesig intersection during the township uprisings, when he was thrown into the back of a police Casspir armoured vehicle. He was badly assaulted with a rifle butt, and he suffered a broken nose. Never one to give in easily, he rose up in great pain and continued shooting pictures from the police vehicle.

I suspect that the real reasons why he has been such a formidable photographer are his keen sense of news, and a self-driven willingness to succeed in whatever he does.’ Jon Qwelane

‘Inhabitants of the developed world, and the privileged, tend to learn of the world’s troubles through photography. Magubane’s photobiography vividly portrays the fact that apartheid is crime against humanity.’ Dr Sifiso Ndlovu.

Last Updated on 24 May 2016