Race and Reconciliation: Essays from the New South Africa

By Daniel Herwitz | Go to book overview

3
Afro-Medici: Thabo Mbeki's African Renaissance

Re-naissance

Semper aliquid novi ex Africa: “Always something new from Africa.” The African renaissance. So many words: indabas and bosberade, i.e., meetings, conferences, discussions, pronouncements, speeches. So many words about words. In a language that everyone can understand. In English, rather than the Italian of Filippo Brunelleschi and his grand Duomo. In English, rather than the German of Jacob Burkhardt and his glorious narratives of the Italianate past. In English, rather than Zulu, language of the fierce and indomitable Shaka. In English, rather than Xhosa, in which the young Nelson Mandela spoke his first words. A renaissance in English, even if it is Zulu and Xhosa, which are apparently being reborn in this rebirth, and even if those who do not speak English cannot understand its terms of rebirth, except in translation.

Ambivalence over English and Englishness, or, more broadly, Europeanness. A renaissance in English, the European language, spoken by those whose ancestors could not speak English. A renaissance by those whose ancestors, even if they could speak English, would not have been listened to by the likes of the English-speaking should they have chosen to speak, except in such stock phrases as “Yes, baas (boss),” “No, baas,” “Thank you,

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Race and Reconciliation: Essays from the New South Africa
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1: The Coat of Many Colors: Truth and Reconciliation 1
  • 2: Soweto's Taxi, America's Rib 47
  • 3: Afro-Medici: Thabo Mbeki's African Renaissance 69
  • 4: Racial and Nonracial States and Estates 104
  • 5: The Genealogy of Modern South African Architecture 128
  • 6: Postmodernists of the South 173
  • 7: Ongoing Struggle at the End of History 196
  • Notes 211
  • Index 217
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