AbstractTable Bay, South Africa, is a typical headland-bay system with a shoreline that can be described by a logarithmic spiral. A peculiarity and unique feature of Table Bay is the juxtaposition of Robben Island opposite its headland. As a consequence, the bathymetry defines an ellipsoidal basin which was postulated to potentially resonate in the form of long-period standing waves (seiches). One aim of this study, therefore, was to investigate whether any evidence for such resonant oscillations could be detected in the geomorphology and sediment distribution patterns. Indeed, the ellipsoidal shape of the basin can be framed by two converging log-spirals with their centres located opposite each other, one off Robben Island and the other on the Cape Town side of the bay. The so-called apex line, which divides the two spirals into equal parts is aligned SW–NE, i.e. more or less parallel to the direction of ocean wave propagation. The distribution patterns of all sedimentary parameters were found to be characterised by a strikingly similar trend to either side of the apex line. This supports the hypothesis that the basin of Table Bay appears to resonate in the form of a mode 1 standing wave, with the node positioned above the apex line in the centre of the bay. The maximum period of such a standing wave was calculated to be around 37 min. The study demonstrates that large-scale sediment distribution patterns can reveal the existence of specific hydrodynamic processes in coastal embayments. It is recommended that this phenomenon be investigated in greater detail aimed at verifying the existence of resonant oscillations in Table Bay and, in the event, at establishing its precise nature and trigger mechanism.
Jafta Kgalabi Masemola is the longest serving (1963–1989) anti-apartheid political prisoner in South Africa’s notorious Robben Island. Although Masemola is well known in the struggle narratives, not much has been written about him and his practices as a political organiser beyond biographical and anecdotal narratives. This article considers, with a certain degree of detail, an even more unthought aspect of Masemola’s life, his creative productions; in particular, the aesthetic logic that underwrites the master key that he cloned from a bar of soap while jailed in Robben Island. Looking from the vantage point of aesthetic and critical discourse, the article attempts to open up new vistas and interests in Azanian cultural praxis.
The Sharpeville Massacre of 1960 has been widely seen as a watershed moment, marking a fundamental shift in the nature of the resistance to apartheid. Its effect on cultural production was monumental: in the face of a massive government crackdown, almost every black writer and artist of note was forced into exile. The poets who write within the long shadow of the massacre must negotiate its legacy and the fraught question of its commemoration.This article takes as its point of focus two poems by Dennis Brutus and Keorapetse Kgositsile that address the place of Sharpeville in cultural memory. I consider the distinctiveness of the poetics of mourning and commemoration that they fashion in relation to South Africa’s most renowned elegy for the victims of Sharpeville, Ingrid Jonker’s “The Child.” I suggest that Brutus’ anti-poetic, subverted elegy “Sharpeville” re-stages commemoration as an act of resistance that is prospective rather than retrospective. In considering Kgositsile’s poem “When Brown is Black,” I examine Kgositsile’s transnational framing of Sharpeville and its location on a continuum of racial suffering, drawing attention to the significance of the links that Kgositsile forges between Malcolm X and “the brothers on Robben Island,” (42) and between Sharpeville and the Watts riots in Los Angeles in 1965. This paper suggests that for both Brutus and Kgositsile commemoration is framed as a mode of activism.
Keywords: Sharpeville, Ingrid Jonker, Dennis Brutus, Keorapetse Kgositsile, cultural memory, commemoration, elegy
The chapter is an account of Mandela’s character, political imagination, and development which looks at his appropriation of Gandhi, his use of the arts, his transformation on Robben Island, and the various attempts which have been made in recent years to define and dismantle his legacy. The chapter is centred on Mandela’s understanding of political violence and his attempt to see through the fantasy of violence to its real purposes and uses, a project in which he was assisted by a reading of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It explores the connection between violence and non-violence as Mandela conceived it in connection with Gandhi and Tolstoy. The material covers the defiance campaigns of the 1950s, Mandela’s cultural life in prison, and the tenor of his presidential term.
The dangers of political violence and the possibilities of non-violence were the central themes of three lives which changed the twentieth century—Leo Tolstoy, writer and aristocrat who turned against his class; Mohandas Gandhi, who corresponded with Tolstoy and considered him the most important person of the time; and Nelson Mandela, prisoner and statesman, who read War and Peace on Robben Island and who, despite having led a campaign of sabotage, saw himself as a successor to Gandhi. Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Mandela tried to create transformed societies to replace the dying forms of colony and empire. They found the inequalities of Russia, India, and South Africa intolerable, yet they questioned the wisdom of seizing the power of the state, creating new kinds of political organization and imagination to replace the old promises of revolution. Their views, along with their ways of leading others, are closely connected, from their insistence on working with their own hands and reforming their individual selves to their acceptance of death. On three continents, in a century of mass mobilization and conflict, they promoted strains of nationalism devoid of antagonism, prepared to take part in a general peace. Looking at Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Mandela in sequence, taking into account their letters and conversations, as well as the institutions they created or subverted, placing at the centre their treatment of the primal fantasy of political violence, reveals a vital radical tradition which stands outside the conventional categories of twentieth-century history and politics.