Lallitha Jawahirilal

Lallitha Jawahirilal (b. 1955, Ladysmith) is a South African visual artist, who enrolled at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London in 1984 and graduated with a BA Degree in in 1987. She continued to study at the Royal College of Art London where she graduated with an MA degree in 1989. She collaborated with South African exile writers, musicians, sculptors, painters and photographers in the UK and engaged in fundraising efforts for to support the anti-apartheid movement, and participated in group exhibitions, including the ‘Artists Against Apartheid’ exhibition in the Upper Street Gallery. She held solo exhibitions at the Africa Centre in Stockholm, Gallery 21 in Johannesburg and the Galerie Trapez in Berlin. In 1990, she was awarded a residency by the Delfina Studios Trust in London and won the Discerning Eye Award in 1991, and the Pollack Krasner Award in 1992.

Her work deals with space as a deeply embedded construct in one’s psyche during exile. Jawahirilal fled apartheid South Africa in the 1980s and went into self-imposed exile in London where she then took up her art studies, continuously engaged her contradictory feelings to her home country (and especially her home town of Ladysmith) which wavers between deep loving emotion, on-going conflict and in some senses, a feeling of spiritual entanglement with her place of birth. Using her own poetry, mixed media (painting and collage), Jawahirilal’s Oh South Africa(1980, 2011) series reflects her longing for her home during her time away in London, but also since 2004 when she took up permanent residence in India. 

Bachelor of Arts, First Class Honours at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, London (1987); Master Degree in Painting at the Royal College of Art, London (1989); Fine Art Lecturer at the University of Durban-Westville, South Africa (1994-2000)

Selected Solo Exhibitions 

2002 Greatmore Studios, Cape Town
2001 Monash University Faculty Gallery, Australia 
1999 Curwen Gallery, London
1996 New Academy Gallery, London
1994 New Academy Gallery, London
1991 Galerie Trapez, Berlin
1990 Gallery 21, Johannesburg
1990 198 Gallery, London
1985 Africa Centre, Stockholm 

Selected Group Exhibitions 

2007 ‘Confluence’, Kalakriti Art Gallery, Hyderabad
2007 16th Anniversary Art Salon, Bangalore
2006 ‘Art Camp’, Renaissance Art Centre, Mumbai
2005 River Arts & Music Festival, Ladysmith, South Africa
2004 ‘Decade Of Democracy’, South African National Gallery, Cape Town 
2003 ‘Journeys’, Ernest G. Welsh School of Art and Design, Atlanta
2001 ‘Jabulisa, The Art of KwaZulu Natal’, Durban Art Gallery, South Africa
2000 African Art Centre, Durban, South Africa
1999 Nico Malan Theatre, Cape Town
1998 ‘Kunst aus Südafrika’, Gallerie Seippel, Stuttgart, Germany 
1998 Newcastle Museum, United Kingdom
1997 Trienalle, Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi
1996 ‘Conjures’, First Gallery, Johannesburg
1991 ‘Discerning Eye’,The Mall Galleries, London
1991 Barcelona International Biennale, Spain
1990 Contemporary Art Society, Art Market, Smith Gallery, London 
1990 ‘Broadgate’, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 
1989 ‘Art London/89’, London
1987-8 Third International Bienniale Print Exhibition, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan 

Selected Awards 

1994 Elizabeth Foundation Award, United States of America 1992 Pollock Krasner Award, United States of America 
1991 Discerning Eye Award, Mall Galleries, London
1989-90 African Education Trust Award, London 

Natasha Becker

Natasha was born in South Africa and has spent the last sixteen years living and working between New York and Cape Town. An expert in contemporary African and African American art, she has curated a number of exhibitions in collaboration with artists, curators, collectors, galleries, museums, and foundations internationally. She recently co-curated two exhibitions, “Perilous Bodies,” and “Radical Love,” at the distinguished Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice to inaugurate their new art gallery in New York (2019). Her past experience includes curating exhibitions at the Goodman Gallery (South Africa), convening public programs in global art history at the Clark Art Institute, and launching an international video art festival (both Massachusetts, USA). Natasha is one of the co-founders of two collaborative curatorial platforms, ASSEMBLY ROOM (New York) and THE UNDERLINE SHOW (Johannesburg). 

Mamela Nyamza

Mamela Nyamza was born and bred in Gugulethu township, near Cape Town in South Africa. From a tender age of 8 years whilst learning Ballet at the Zama Dance School in Gugulethu, Ms Nyamza, knew from the onset that, her love of body movement will eventually bring both prejudice and prestige to her career as a dance-theatre performing artist. Consistently ridiculed by her childhood peers for her athletic built toned body, to the ultimate rebuke and rejection of her natural body structure by her classical Ballet Teachers at tertiary level, Ms Nyamza inevitably was drawn to the politics of the body.

FORMALLY TRAINED AND QUALIFIED IN DANCE GENRE
In the midst of adversity, Ms Nyamza boldly proceeded to graduate from the Tshwane University of Technology with a National Diploma in Ballet in 1994. After acquiring her Diploma in Ballet, Ms Nyamza was awarded a working contract at the State Theatre, in Pretoria. It is during this tenure that Ms Nyamza started to think of radically deconstructing the normative expectations of who qualifies to be a classical Ballerina. In this process, she duly won an audition in 1999 for a prestigious scholarship to study further at the Alvin Ailey International School for Dance in New York, Unites States of America.

CHARTING WAY IN VISIONARY CHOREOGRAPHY
The extra experience Ms Nyamza got from the Alvin Ailey School of Dance, soon landed her lead dance roles in many high acclaimed International Musicals such as the Lion King, African Footprint, We Will Rock You. These quality stints as lead dancer, also exposed Ms Nyamza to other forms of dance, such as pantsula and hip-hop dance, providing her with distinct expertise in contemporary dance. Ms Nyamza’s distinction and vast experience in the genre of dance, promptly propelled to revive her initial quest to deconstruct all that is there to norm and expectations of the dance genre.

DANCING THEATRICS FOR JUSTICE IN THE ART
Vast accumulated experience in the field of dance became a solid foundation for Ms Nyamza’s distinction in creation, choreography and directing extra-ordinary fresh innovative works. By 2007, Ms Nyamza was already ahead of peers, and she was decisively awarded the Standard Bank National Young Artist for the Dance in 2011, due to her refreshingly innovative choreography and performance in the art of dance. Ms Nyamza’s highly acclaimed “HATCHED”, created in 2008, was her first work to kick-start her art programme of unapologetically demystifying, deconstructing and trampling on the norms and standards of the dance/classics.

VISIONARY ARTIST
Ms Nyamza’s immense contribution to dance-theatre and choreography, is now fast becoming legendary in the art of dance-theatre. Her various works since “HATCHED” (against patriarchy), including “THE MEAL” (against elitist ballet), “19-BORN 76-REBELS” (against youth discrimination and poverty), “LAST ATTITUDE” (against gender inequality in the dance), “I STAND CORRECTED” (against homophobia and hate crimes), “WENA MAMELA” (against gate keeping in the arts), “DE- APART-HATE” (against inhumanity and violence in society), and “PHUMA-LANGA” (against cultural domination), are all work-pieces that deal with important political and societal issues of today’s South Africa. Other major works of Nyamza include: “KUTHENI”, “ISIGQALA”, “SHIFT”, and “UMENDI”.

All these works have indeed propelled Ms Nyamza to embody and manifest the words of the Philosopher Allen Kaprow who said: “The line between art and life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps indistinct, as possible”.

In many strokes of genius, Ms Nyamza has put herself in for activism for equity in the arts. Her strong belief that artists have the power to change the world the better, prompted Ms Nyamza to lead a four-women march against an exclusive elitist Theatre Awards Ceremony on 18th March 2017 in Cape Town.

Ms Nyamza’s quest to address the current state of arts in South Africa, which is still exclusive, elitist and fretted with acute patronage, has led her to create a trilogy of works: DE-APART-HATE; PHUMA-LANGA; and ROCK-TO-THE-CORE. With these works, Nyamza has indeed mastered the art of visionary and raw freshness in the field of DANCE. All these three works brilliantly raise pertinent issues of race; tolerance; identity; gate-keeping; equality; and equity audience development in the arts environment. Ms Nyamza’s newest work, BLACK PRIVILEGE, epitomises this trilogy in distinct and focused work of law and spirituality.

Ms Nyamza’s ultimate goal is to propel DANCE into the ultimate theatric and genre of the performance art that conveys body politics on all social issues, and not to just entertain.

Indeed, Ms Nyamza’s fierce critics allege that she is a “non-dancing conceptual” dancer. In her own words, Ms Nyamza counters: “one cannot separate concept from creation and choreography – they all must go hand-in-hand to yield to a complete performing artist”.

NUMEROUS ACCOLADES AND HONOURS

The accolades that Ms Nyamza has received over the years are indeed indicative that the Art Fraternity recognizes her immense contribution to the arts.

Ms Nyamza has just successfully finished her three-year tenure as one of the Advisory Panelist in DANCE for the South African National Arts Council (NAC).

Apart from receiving numerous nominations for awards, such as being nominated for the 2016 and 2017 BroadwayWorld South African Awards for Best Choreography in DE-APART-HATE and ROCK-TO-THE-CORE, Ms Nyamza received the following awards and achievements:

  1. Featured Artist of the Grahamstown Standard Bank National Arts Festival 2018, a first of its kind for the Dance Art Genre. This accolade is definitely one of the highest honor that can be bestowed to any South African artist, for the immense contribution done in the art field of the dance-theatre.
  2. Dance Umbrella Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Dancer in Contemporary Style for “THE DYING SWAN” in 2000.
  3. Standard Bank Young Artist for the DANCE in 2010
  4. Standard Bank Ovation Award for “THE MEAL” in 2012
  5. University of Cape Town Institute of Creative Arts Fellowship Award in 2012
  6. 6. OPRAH WINFREY Women of the Year Award in 2013
  7. IMBOKODO Award for DANCE in 2016
  8. Identified by the DAILY REVIEW of Australia as one of the 30 International Artists to track in 2018, that are positively changing the world. “They are out there contributing toward peace, making work in conflict zones, growing understanding and awareness, facing misrepresentation, and organising for social change”: Shawn Lent, January 19, 2018 in http://www.dailyreview.com.au

Ms Nyamza has also travelled extensively, continuously being invited to National and International Arts Festivals, such as the Dance Umbrella, Infecting the City, and Standard Bank Fringe Festivals in South Africa, and many other International Festivals including in Congo, Germany, Mali, Belgium, Senegal, Slovenia, Singapore, and Canada.

Ms Nyamza’s work is currently being studied at various national and international universities, an indication that she is a versatile creator, choreographer and performing artist, who continues to provide relevance to both academia and the practice of arts.

Ms Nyamza’s ultimate vision is to create and direct more work that would reach the most remote areas of South Africa to unearth young, raw talent in the art of Dance in particular and performance arts in general. Ms Nyamza has already started with grass-roots work by providing mentorship workshop sessions.

Lebohang Kganye

Artist photo provided on website lebohangkganye.co.za

Lebohang Kganye is an artist living and working in Johannesburg. Kganye received her introduction to photography at the Market Photo Workshop in 2009 and completed the Advanced Photography Programme in 2011. She also completed her Fine Arts studies at the University of Johannesburg in 2016 and forms a new generation of contemporary South African photographers.

Although primarily a photographer, Kganye’s photography often incorporates her interest in sculpture and performance. Over the past seven years she has participated in photography masterclasses and group exhibitions locally and internationally. Kganye was the recipient of the Tierney Fellowship Award in 2012, leading to her exhibition Ke Lefa Laka. She created an animation from the series, which was launched on Mandela Day 2014 in Scotland, entitled Pied Piper’s Voyage. Kganye was then selected as the Featured Artist for the 17th Business and Arts South Africa Awards in 2014. She was also awarded the Jury Prize at the Bamako Encounters Biennale of African Photography in 2015 and the recipient of the CAP Prize 2016 in Basel. Kganye recently received the coveted award for the Sasol New Signatures Competition 2017, leading to a solo show in 2018. Kganye’s work forms part of several private and public collections, most notably the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pennsylvania and the Walther Collection in Ulm.

Continue reading “Lebohang Kganye”

Wikipedia Workshops

Art on our Mind received a Wikimedia Foundation Rapid Grant from July 2019 to June 2020, which will help facilitate our meetings. We aim to broaden the number of Wikipedia entries presenting women-of-colour artists from different fields of creative and cultural production.

The workshops will train skills for beginners, so everyone is welcome. Each workshop will be facilitated by experienced Wikipedia editors or representatives of Wikimedia South Africa. For those who are interested and can’t join the meetings, or are inter- ested to participate online, online tutorials will be made available.

The workshops will enable participants to create and upload new articles or to expand on existing entries. Please bring your laptop and identify an artist or group whose entry you want to create or expand (individually or in group work). We will work online, editing and creating entries in your sandbox. 

The workshops will draw from research generated by the Art on our Mind research project and participants work together creating and expanding Wikipedia entries on artists and creatives.

Read an article in The Guardian what Wikimedia is doing about the fact that women make up only 15-20% of the editors on Wikipedia. [pdf here]

Upcoming workshops

Oral histories workshop 2020
The oral histories and oral citations workshop was moved to February 2020.
If you are interested, find more information about the topic here:

Oral Citations research project
People are Knowledge. Exloring alternative methods of citation on Wikipedia
When Knowledge Isn’t Written, Does It Still Count?

Wikipedia edit-a-thon

Dates will be announced in the beginning of 2020

Please email Fouad Asfour for more information.

We make use of a Wikimedia platform AOOM Wikipedia Workshops to coordinate our work, find more information here: 

Past workshop dates

2 August: Wikimedia Strategy 2030

More than 20 participants came to engage in discussions during the Wikipedia Salon with Wikimedia ZA director Bobby Shabangu on Friday, 2 August, with two focus areas of the Wikipedia 2030 strategy on the table which have been chosen by Wikimedia South Africa: Capacity Building and Diversity. Results of this discussion will be presented soon.

From the invite: Many people use Wikipedia as their first point of reference for their school research projects and general update on daily subject topics. The Wikimedia Foundation which runs Wikipedia would like to find out from you through a workshops which will be held in Johannesburg and Cape Town, how can they improve Wikipedia’s user interaction and how can they support content contribution so that it represent the diverse people who reads it, it’s a movement strategy which they aim to reach by year 2030 where Wikimedia content represents everyone who consumes and contributes to it.
This will not be edit workshops but Salon Strategy where participants will discuss and take a short survey afterwards. So, we would like to invite you to take part in this Salon Strategy Survey.
Over the next months Wikipedians around the world will be getting together to be part of this survey, so any ideas you have are very important to us.
Come through! Even if you want to listen to how the conversation is going.

Wiki edit-a-thon
Friday, 23 August 2019, 3-5pm at Wits Writing Centre seminar room

African Feminisms (Afems ) Wikipedia panel discussion
Saturday 7 September 2019, 4-6pm at Wits Graduate School
Find out more about African Feminisms (Afems) or register here.

Afems 2019 Wikipedia panel and workshop

As Wikipedia enters the voting age this year, we will look a bit closer at the online encyclopedia’s accountability and in terms of its race, gender, sexuality and other bias, to inquire what programmes are in place to educate and decolonise this space of global knowledge collection. For this panel, Afems has invited Wikimedia South Africa director Bobby Shabangu and Wiki Loves Women co-founder Isla Haddow-Flood to speak about recent efforts of Wikimedia South Africa to change the way the online spaces frame what is “knowlege” who has access and who owns it.

Bobby Shabangu is Wikimedia ZA director of projects since 2013. His editing activities on Wikipedia focus on the African continent and the Joburgpedia project which involves several institutions. He organises workshops for Wikipedia training and is part of the Community Process Steering Committee for the Wikimedia Foundation working on formulating the 2030 Movement strategy.

Isla Haddow-Flood is a writer, editor and project strategist who is passionate about harnessing communication technology and media platforms for the advancement of open access to knowledge; specifically, knowledge that relates to and enhances the understanding of Africa via the Open Movement (and especially Wikipedia). Since 2011, Isla has been working with members of the WikiAfrica movement to conceptualise and instigate #OpenAfrica, Kumusha Bus and WikiEntrepreneur. She is the co-leader of projects such as Wiki Loves Africa (an annual photographic contest), Kumusha Takes Wiki (citizen journalists in Africa collecting freely-licensed content). In 2016, Isla has co-lead the NGO Wiki In Africa to instigate Wiki Loves Women (content liberation project related to African Women), WikiFundi (an offline editing environment that mimics Wikipedia) and WikiChallenge African Schools (that introduces the next generation of editors to Wikipedia).  She also volunteers her time to the Wikimedia Movement’s strategy process by being a Working Group member for Advocacy and is a member of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Annual Plan Grant committee.

Shelley Barry

Shelley Barry was born and raised in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, and completed graduate studies in English and Drama at the University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape. She has worked extensively as a disability rights activist, following a shooting in the Cape taxi wars of 1996 that resulted in her being a wheelchair user. She has held positions as Media Manager in the Office on the Status of Disabled Persons in the Presidency and as the National Parliamentary Policy Co-ordinator for Disabled People South Africa. During this time, she co-ordinated Nelson Mandela’s guard of honour for his State of Nation address in 1997. Shelley was awarded Ford Foundation scholarship and graduated with an MFA in Film at Temple University in Philadelphia in 2006. She was a Carnegie scholar at Wits University from 2007-2008 and taught documentary at Big Fish School of Digital Filmmakingand at UWC where she pioneered filmmaking in the Women’s and Gender studies department. Shelley held positions in the FPB South Africa, Mediaworks and currently serves on the board of Street Stories Films. She is associated with Gun Free South Africa and gave a testimony towards ending gun violence at the United Nations in 2006. 

Continue reading “Shelley Barry”

Decolonial AestheSis Creative Lab

The Art on our Mind experimental lab was facilitated by Prof Bhekizizwe Peterson (South African literature scholar and screen writer); Jon Alpert (American journalist and documentary filmmaker); Laura Andel (Argentine composer ); Vibha Galhotra (Indian visual artist); Sharlene Khan (visual artist) and Fouad Asfour (art writer and editor).
8-14 July  2018
School of Fine Arts  |   Somerset Street
Grahamstown, South Africa

More information below and on the DACL blog.

Continue reading “Decolonial AestheSis Creative Lab”

Senzeni Marasela

Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with Senzeni Marasela

Senzeni Marasela is a cross-disciplinary artist who explores photography, video, prints, and mixed-medium installations involving textiles and embroidery. Her work deals with history, memory, and personal narrative, emphasizing historical gaps and overlooked figures. Her work includes embroidery, print and video as well as performance and has been widely exhibited in South Africa, Europe and the US. Her work features in prominent local and international collections, including MoMA, New York. She was recently part of the Johannesburg Pavillion at the last Venice Biennale.

Continue reading “Senzeni Marasela”

CURRENT

Art on our Mind Creative Dialogues

Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with South African painter Lallitha Jawahirilal

Lallitha Jawahirilal (b. 1955, Ladysmith) is a South African visual artist, she enrolled at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London in 1984 where she graduated with a BA Degree in in 1987. She continued to study at the Royal College of Art London and graduated with an MA degree in 1989. She collaborated with South African exile writers, musicians, sculptors, painters and photographers in the UK and engaged in fundraising efforts for to support the anti-apartheid movement, and participated in group exhibitions, including the ‘Artists Against Apartheid’ exhibition in the Upper Street Gallery. She held solo exhibitions at the Africa Centre in Stockholm, Gallery 21 in Johannesburg and the Galerie Trapez in Berlin. In 1990, she was awarded a residency by the Delfina Studios Trust in London and won the Discerning Eye Award in 1991, and the Pollack Krasner Award in 1992.

Her work deals with space as a deeply embedded construct in one’s psyche during exile. Jawahirilal fled apartheid South Africa in the 1980s and went into self-imposed exile in London where she then took up her art studies, continuously engaged her contradictory feelings to her home country (and especially her home town of Ladysmith) which wavers between deep loving emotion, on-going conflict and in some senses, a feeling of spiritual entanglement with her place of birth. Using her own poetry, mixed media (painting and collage), Jawahirilal’s Oh South Africa(1980, 2011) series reflects her longing for her home during her time away in London, but also since 2004 when she took up permanent residence in India. 

Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with performance artist, dancer and choreographer Mamela Nyamza

Friday 6 September 16h-18h Wits Downstairs Theatre.

Mamela Nyamza (born and raised in Gugulethu, Cape Town) trained in dance at the Zama Dance School under the Royal Academy of Dance (Cape Town, South Africa). She furthered her studies at Pretoria Dance Technikon where she obtained a National Diploma in Ballet (Pretoria, South Africa). In 1998 she received a scholarship to study dance at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre (New York, USA). Thereafter, she joined the State Theatre Dance Company (South Africa) and participated in national and international performances. Nyamza also attended choreography workshops at the Vienna International Dance Festival. She also received ballet training from Martin Schonberg at the Pact Dance Company (Pretoria, South Africa), attended African Dance workshops by Jamaine Acogny (Soweto, South Africa), and studied a dance course at Sadler’s Wells Theatre (London, United Kingdom).
She also focuses on socio-political themes such as violence, rape and lesbian identity. She recently returned from Edinburgh, UK, as one of the delegates from South Africa for the Edinburgh Theatre and Dance showcase under the British Council. Awards include: Standard Bank Young Artist Award in Dance (2011), Featured Artist in Dance at the National Arts Festival (2018), Mbokodo in Dance (2016), GLAMOUR creative women, among others. She is now based at the South African State Theatre as a Deputy Artistic Director, and some of her mandate is Curator for Dance Umbrella Africa, VAVASATI and 16 Days of Activism at The South African State Theatre.

She interrogates the dance medium of classical ballet and challenges the conventions for traditional dance norms taught in formal dance education and is skilled in multiple dance forms such as: modern dance, African dance, the Horton technique, Spanish dance, jazz movement, mime, flying low technique, release technique, gumboot dance, Butoh and many more.

Select solo and group performances include De-Apart-Hate at Johannesburg Dance Umbrella (Johannesburg, South Africa, 2017), Hatched (Johannesburg, France, Germany, Singapore, Egypt, Cairo, Mali, Tchad, USA, and UK’s Dance Umbrella, 2011; Infecting the City, Cape Town, 2013), I Stand Corrected, in collaboration with UK-based artist Mojisola Adebayo at the Ovalhouse (London, United Kingdom, 2012) and later at the Soweto Theatre, South Africa; Isingqala and Amafongkong, collaborative productions with the Adugna Dance Theatre Company (Ethiopia) at the National Arts Festival (Grahamstown, South Africa, 2011), and African Footprints (2006). Her latest work Black Privilege is still on demand internationally and nationally.

Art on our Mind Creative Dialogue with contemporary art curator Natasha Becker

Thursday 5 September 15.30h The Point of Order Gallery, Corner Bertha and, Stiemens St, Johannesburg.

Natasha was born in South Africa and has spent the last sixteen years living and working between New York and Cape Town. An expert in contemporary African and African American art, she has curated a number of exhibitions in collaboration with artists, curators, collectors, galleries, museums, and foundations internationally. She recently co-curated two exhibitions, “Perilous Bodies,” and “Radical Love,” at the distinguished Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice to inaugurate their new art gallery in New York (2019). Her past experience includes curating exhibitions at the Goodman Gallery (South Africa), convening public programs in global art history at the Clark Art Institute, and launching an international video art festival (both Massachusetts, USA). Natasha is one of the co-founders of two collaborative curatorial platforms, ASSEMBLY ROOM (New York) and THE UNDERLINE SHOW (Johannesburg). 

Theorising from the
Epicentres of our Agency

African Feminisms (Afems) Conference 2019
5-7 September 2019, Wits University, Johannesburg

Organised by the Department of Visual Arts, Wits University and the Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University

The third edition of the African Feminisms (Afems) conference will happen from the 5-7 September 2019 at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, in collaboration with the Department of Literary Studies in English, Rhodes University.
The 2019 theme is based on Nigerian Stiwanist Molara Ogundipe’s conversation in 2002 with South African black feminist Desiree Lewis in which Ogundipe states:

For me, social ideas should emerge from a consciousness that thinks of what is beneficial to a human being as a person, not because the ideas occurred or are practiced in Europe or America. We need to overcome our endemic inferiority complex towards Europe and things “white,” successfully implanted since our colonial education and through its curricula. We should think from our epicentres of agency, looking for what is meaningful, progressive and useful to us as Africans, as we enrich ourselves with forerunning ideas from all over the world including Europe and America. … I felt that as concerned African women we needed to focus on our areas of concern, socially and geographically. I am concerned with critical and social transformations of a positive nature in Africa, positive meaning, being concerned with everything that maximises the quality of life of Africans and their potentials too.

This conversation highlights issues that continue to resonate with black-African-postcolonial feminists in Africa and beyond: lived experience as sites of knowledge; epistemologies tied to geo-specific bodies; long heterogenous world histories that co-exist with indigenous knowledges; cultural seepage; humanistic philosophical stances that refuse the ‘othering’ of Africa(ns) and claim our space and place in world-making; embodied thinking-doing; a plurality of feminisms that respond to the diversity of African women; the centrality of women in decolonial paradigms; an acknowledgement of acts of agency that define Africans on a daily basis; and a good dose of hopefulness for the future. For the 2019 Afems conference, we would like to issue a Call for Presentations around the idea of theorising from the epicentres of our agency, thinking through some of these areas:

  • What defines our epicentres?
  • What are the sites and range of ‘lived experiences’ that we are dealing with as we head towards the change of another decade and a fight back by what bell hooks has termed ‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’?
  • What knowledges inform our centering and doing?
  • What does ‘theorising’ mean for black-African women?
  • How do we contest the colonial theory-praxis divide?
  • What role does creativities play in our world-thinking and world-making?
  • ‘Agency’ in Africa has so many connotations including the stereotype of the ‘development agency’. What does it mean ‘to have agency’? Does agency = active? What does it mean to be an agent or to be agentic?
  • How do we create change and organisations from the epicentres of the fields and the grassroots?
  • How does theorising from our geo-specific epicentres disrupt colonial paradigms and rethink decolonial epistemologies?
  • Can there be a centre without margins? Who are our margins as we look out from our epicentres?

How can we reach out from our diverse epicentres in our various countries in Africa across Anglophone/Lusophone/ Francophone divides to each other and to sisters across the seas to have global conversations that respond to not only the global eco-capitalist crisis we are in, but to enrich the terrain of the human experiences we share?

As always, all sessions are free and open to the university and general public. However, a registration fee of R500 will be charged to participants to cover the printing of the programme, drinks and meals. Registration fees will have to be paid in advance of the conference and are non-refundable.

To register, follow this link:
https://www.quicket.co.za/events/79049-african-feminisms-conference-2019/

The African Feminisms (Afems) Conference is hosted by the Art on our Mind research project run by Prof Sharlene Khan (Wits University) and the Urban Connections and Popular Imaginaries in Africa (UCAPI) research project run by Dr Lynda Spencer (Rhodes University). 

For more information, refer to the website of Afems at:
https://afems2018.wixsite.com/afemsconference

Or contact Prof Khan or Dr Spencer on afrifems17@gmail.com.

Afems is generously supported by


Donors who are interested in supporting the conference, find Afems banking details here.

Black Feminist Killjoy Reading Group

The Black Feminist Killjoy Reading Group is run by Dr Sharlene Khan and the Art on our Mind research group. If you are interested in exploring fictional and non-fictional cultural practices of women killjoys of colour from around the globe – in order to think through our own lives – this reading group is for you.

Friends from outside of the department and field are most welcome.

Art on our Mind was located at Rhodes University from 2016-18, and moved to the Wits School of Art in 2019. The Reading Group will continue in both venues, please contact Prof Sharlene Khan for Joburg Reading Group meetings, or Zodwa Tutani, Viwe Madinda or Jodie Pather for meetings in Makhanda. 

blackfeministreadinggroup.wordpress.com