Marikana: 10 Years On – Public Seminar

The public seminar reflected on Marikana 10 years on with Nomzamo Zondo reflecting on the progress of the widow’s cases for reparations. Advocate Tembeka Ngucaitobi reflected on the history mining and the questioned the importance of an inquiry whilst Meshack Mbungula brought the issues of mineworkers at present to the front.

Public Seminar including Advocate Tembeka Ngucaitobi, Nomzamo Zondo and Meshack Mbungula

Public Series & Schools

Marikana : The danger of memorial without memory

The 16th of August 2022 marked ten years since the Marikana Massacre. In 2015 students at universities all over South Africa “commemorated” the deaths of 34 miners and 2 security personnel and 2 police men during a labour dispute strike in Marikana in the North West province of South Africa. Since the incident – an incident which is often referred to as the “historical break” between the interests of the government and the working class – the historical of the trajectory of the liberated South Africa has changed. Marikana leaves us with many political questions to grapple with within political organisations. 

For Tshisimani it was not enough to “commemorate” the massacre of Marikana but rather to question it as a historical moment so that it may make sense of it for the future of the country. Through our engagements with the What is Democracy cohort – a group of young activists who meet monthly to discuss the relevance of democracy today – we realised that there is a generation of young people who do not know what Marikana is – what the event meant, how it unfolded and what it means for the political realities we find ourselves in. 

The program included an afternoon workshop, a public seminar with Meshack (MACUA), Advocate Tembeka Ngucaitobi and Nomzamo Zondo (SERI); a book launch of Julian Brown’s Marikana:a people’s history and an evening of song and performance reflecting on Marikana.

Tshsisimani hosted a 2-day educational program “commemorating” the Marikana Massacre with youth activists for whom the massacre is a distant-memory and event.

Lessons from the Program


The Blinded City: Book Launch

Tshisimani invites you to a launch of Mathew Wilhem- Solomon, The Blinded City: Ten Years in Inner City Johannesburg to be held at Cissie Gool House.

This is a moment for activists and the public at large to partake in insightful conversations about life of working-class fmilies in the inner city and draw lessons on the enduring spatial injustice in South Africa’s major cities. This book provides a humanising narrative for those rendered faceless by city authorities and chronicles the experience of evictions and displacements. Please join us as we celebrate this progressive publication in a manner reflective of the vibrancy of activists resisting evictions.

Please RSVP to info@tshisimani.org.za

Date: 1 September 2022
Cissie Gool House Hall, 77 Mountain Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915


Tshisimani Arts Fest 2022: Democracy for who?

How is it that nearly three decades of democracy can coexist with rampant inequality, rising poverty, corruption, violence and the erosion of ordinary people’s dignity? For the Tshisimani Arts Festival in 2022 four groups from across Cape Town have created original performances that explore resistance to the erosion of democratic rights and imagining what a democracy from below looks like. 

Featuring performances from activists from Cissie Gool House occupation, Sibelius and Simonstown High Schools, and a commissioned script by arts activist Qondiswa James, each piece showcases powerful stories of creative resistance and building democracy for We, the People. 

Where: Gugu S’thebe Cultural Centre, Washington Street, Langa
When: Saturday 27 August from 14h30 – 16h00

RSVP to info@tshisimani.org.za or 021 685 3516


A Rebel’s Guide to Walter Rodney – A Book Launch

This event included a book lauch for Chinedu Chukwudinma’s A Rebel’s Guide to Walter Rodeny. Chinedu is a social activist and writer based in London. Throughout the program we utilised his book to summarise key insights about Rodney’s life. The material was easy to access and concise for our participants. It is a critical resource for anyone wanting to simplify the ideas of Rodney for youth.

The book does the necessary task of contextualising Rodney’s ideas to particular historical moments and places, detailing what is specific and useful about them and how the world might have received them at the time.

Participants read chapters out of the A Rebel’s Guide to Walter Rodney at the popular education Teach-ins held during the program.

Chinedu was put into conversation with Molaodi Wa Sekake, author of Socialism NoMuntu Omusha – Taking The Oath of Revolution and Reflections from the Gutter both marxist reviews of black life in South Africa today. The debate between the two authors was lively as they both held views on Walter Rodney’s expressions of anti-imperialism.

Socialism NoMuntu Omusha is a self-published title reflecting on the relevance of Socialism in an Occupied Azania

Cultural Evening: A Song for Rodney 


Cultural Evening: A Song for Rodney

Many of the themes & ideas Walter Rodney wrote about in his short life persist and have relevance today. The last day of the Walter Rodney series fell on South Africa’s Youth Day. We therefore curated a cultural programme – a ‘Song for Rodney’ that featured young artists grappling with issues of decoloniality as a cultural celebration of black intellectual and creative thought. We commissioned original poems from two young artists: Koleka Putuma and Mbongeni Nomkonwana. We asked them to think about the following questions as a prompt for a poem:

  • What does an anti-imperialist politics mean for young people in Africa today?
  • What does development in Africa look like outside of a capitalist paradigm? 
  • How does neo colonialism influence culture?

The two poems here reflect complex themes connecting a brutal colonial history with a defiant present.

Koleka Putuma – Today peaceful, Tomorrow warlike, The next day warlike again

Photo credit: Kike Para
Koleka Putuma is an award-winning theatre practitioner, writer and poet. Her bestselling debut collection of poems Collective Amnesia took the South African literary scene by storm. Since its publication in April 2017, the book is in its 12th print run, and his been translated into 8 languages. Her second collection, Hullo, Bu-Bye, Koko, Come In, has forthcoming translations in Dutch, Danish and French.

Mbongeni Nomkonwana

Mbongeni Nomkonwana is a published writer and translator. He is a spoken word artist who has performed on many stages, both locally and internationally. He is also co-founder, Managing Director, and resident poet at Lingua Franca Spoken Word Movement, one of Cape Town’s premier poetry collectives, with a unique fusion of spoken word poetry and authentically South African music. 

Zoe Moelelekwa & Open Mic

Jazz in the Native Yards supported Tshisimani in hosting, young maestro Zoe Moelelekwa, son of Moses Moelelekwa, in a solo performance reflecting on the struggles of the ’76 youth. Zoe is a pianist and composer, currently studying at the Manhattan School of Music as a Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholar. This was a his debut performance in South Africa as a solo artist returning from New York. Zoe is young and emotive and captures the hopes and disappointments of young people today through his music.

Zoe Moelelekwa performs a piano solo at the Song for Rodney event.

Based in Gugulethu, Jazz in the Native Yards is a collective keeping the revolutionary spirit of jazz on the Cape Flats alive by curating events with jazz musicians based on themes of community, solidarity and cultural resistance.

Find out more about their work here : https://jazzinthenativeyards.co.za/

The Open Mic event presented a moment of expression to young people involved in the program. Here we heard activists through song, slam-poetry and performance.

The event was attended by young students and learners from all over Cape Town. It was hosted at the Surplus Radical Bookshop in Albert Road, Woodstock.


Dr Natasha Shivji presents Rodney’s Understanding of Imperialism

Dr Natasha Shivji explains the flows of capital through imperialism.

Dr Natasha Shivji, a postdoctoral research associate in the African studies center and Political Science Department at Cambridge University, UK as well as the Director of the Institute of Research in Intellectual Histories of Africa (IRIHA) in Dar es Salaam, joined us for a public seminar engaging the core arguments within How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. The lecture was presented in a non-traditional way and began with questions from the audience which Shivji engaged and broke down into easy-to-understand concepts and analogies. This model of engagement and then input is unique for an academic context which traditionally involves an input or lecture followed by some questions and answers.

This lecture grounded much of the engagement following it during the program. Shivji’s iterations of imperialism and under-development as well as diverse understanding of different forms of development in different spaces was helpful for framing some of the questions young people would ask through the rest of the program in understanding the text for today’s activist context.

Dr. Shiviji explains underdevelopment and imperialist relationships to Africa.

A Rebel’s Guide to Walter Rodney – A Book Launch 


Walter Rodney through Popular Education

During the course of the Walter Rodney series Tshisimani and the Walter Rodney Revolutionary Library held two popular education “teach-ins”. Through these teach-ins we took a constituency of young, curious activists through the life and ideas of Walter Rodney. As educators we were challenged to find robust ways of discussing the many themes prevalent in Rodney’s life. For this we worked through a process of mapping and collaging. We also used summaries of the core ideas found in Chinedu Chukwudinma’s, A Rebel’s Guide to Walter Rodney.

How do you share Walter Rodney’s ideas with young people today?

Key Lessons

Walter Rodney’s writings are usually accessed by academics with a particular interest in Caribbean and Black studies. This means that many of the resources available to popularise Rodney’s ideas are pitched for individuals with high-levels of literacy and an ability to mine through dense texts. To counter this it was necessary to allow participants to read Rodney through others. Summaries were useful for doing this. Some of our participants were high-school students, others were more experienced readers. We were able to find a way to pitch to both groups within the workshops by initiating processes of collective, facilitated reading.

We divided Walter’s experiences according to the geographies he occupied throughout his life. We divided these periods into his time in Guyana as a young boy at a prestigious school, his experience of education in elite institutions in the West Indies, his time in London and his revolutionary involvement in Tanzania. These periods all mark specific experiences and ideological moments for Rodney which are useful for close reading to summarise some of the big ideas prevalent in his books.

Rodney’s identity as an activist-academic is one of the most interesting aspects of Rodney’s life. This dual identity is important for young people to engage as it speaks for a flexibility which incorporates action and thought. In the conversations emerging from the popular education space, the young participants questioned how they contribute to revolutionary thought in their activism today.

Dr Natasha Shivji presents Rodney’s Understanding of Imperialism 


Film Screening: Disturbance 68; The Past is Not the Future

The series began with a film screening of Disturbance 68 and The Past is Not the Future. Tshisimani identified film as a way to deliver the essence of Walter Rodney to an audience who might not have encountered him before. An input from Patricia Rodney, chair of the Walter Rodney Foundation and widow of Walter Rodney, marked the start of the series.

The Walter Rodney Revolutionary Library was an essential partner in the program. The library, which was started by left-leaning students based just outside of Johannesburg, collects; shares and teaches Rodney’s writings because of it’s importance for anti-imperialist, decolonial and pan-african scholars and community leaders today. Vusi Mahlangu, member of the library, made an input about Rodney’s impact on their ideas and thinking.

Professor Mathew J Smith, Chair of the Department of History and Archeology at the University of West Indies, Mona, directed the two films about the life of Walter Rodney and his time as a student which were screened at the kick-starter event. The films put into images the life, time and ideas of Walter Rodney. The following Q&A, gives more context to the films and their ideas.

Walter Rodney Through Popular Education 

Public Series & Schools

Walter Rodney and Anti-Imperialist Politics Today

The year 2022 marks 50 years since Guyana’s revolutionary, Walter Rodney, published How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. To celebrate the book and the life of Walter Rodney, Tshisimani held a week-long program in partnership with the Walter Rodney People’s Revolutionary Library, as part of it’s Radical Thinkers Series. The series included film screenings, public seminars, popular education workshops and closed with a youth day cultural event commemorating the valour of the South African youth of 1976. Walter Rodney died young – at the age of 38. His life as a revolutionary-intellectual was short-lived but impactful. We commemorated that spirit throughout the event with young people from all over Cape Town. 

This is an archive of the series, including recordings of public events, images from the programme and a short documentary highlighting the popular education workshops at the centre of this program. It includes materials and insights into how to platform Rodney’s work for young people today through film, poetry and collective reading.

Navigating the Archive

Click the link to see content related to the following events:

Day 1: Film Screening: Disturbance 68; The Past is Not the Future 

This includes the inputs which framed the start of the program, including messages from Patricia Rodney and Vusi Mahlangu from the Walter Rodney Revolutionary Library.

Day 2: Walter Rodney Through Popular Education 

This documents the popular education workshops held during the program including a short-documentary on the process it undertook and some key lessons we drew from it as well as lesson plans for the program itself.

Day 2: Dr Natasha Shivji presents Rodney’s Understanding of Imperialism 

Dr Natasha Shivji delivers a public lecture on Rodney’s idea of imperialism with an active and involved audience.

Day 3: A Rebel’s Guide to Walter Rodney – A Book Launch 

This book launch includes inputs from Moloadi Wa Sekake and Chinedu Chukwudinma on A Rebel’s Guide to Walter Rodney and Socialism NoMuntu Omusha.

Day 3: Cultural Evening: A Song for Rodney 

This reflection on the cultural evening includes an overview of the evening including unique poetry performances on anti-imperialism and a collaboration with Jazz in the Native Yards.

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