Saturday, 16 March 2013

Consititonal referendum day in Zimbabwe

This poster appeared on my iPad this morning - quite randomly (shuffle). But it seemed very appropriate.

Zimbabwe was so transformed by the last constitutional debate, it seems right to hope that the same might be true this time, but instead the water is rather muddier.

In 1996 when Jonah Gokova and I ran the first workshop on Zimbabwe's constitution - including presentations by Bulelani Ngcuka from South Africa and the late, much missed, John Makumbe, we were amazed at the excitement it generated. The room was packed out and debate was lively. Even at that early stage, people seemed to sense the potential of the constitution as a framework for debate and reform.

The seeds that became the NCA were already germinating at the Zimbabwe Council of Churches in the minds of Deprose Muchena and Tawanda Mutasah, but I don't think even they anticipated what was to come - a profound transformation of party politics and civil society in Zimbabwe.

I'll post about the images and significance of those debates another time. Today is a day to focus on the hopes that Zimbabwe continues that transformation, and that the outcome is progressive and democratic. So much could be riding on this.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Commemorative fabrics

Commemorative fabrics are not a huge thing in the parts of Africa
that I know best.  In Zimbabwe, you sometimes see Church anniversaries marked with fabric, especially the women's guilds. But other fabrics are fairly uncommon (although this may be changing?).

I've always been envious of colleagues from Tanzania and Mozambique who seem to find dozens of very political fabrics.  I'm very much looking forward to some posts from my colleagues who study Tanzania!

The fabrics above actually show ANC slogans and logos, but were photographed by Dan Hammett in Mbeya, Tanzania, when he went in search of the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO), which is now the Tanzanian national agricultural college.  They're not terribly exciting images, but they do remind us about the solidarity ties between South Africa and Tanzania, which continue to shape continental politics today.

The real reason I was thinking about fabric though, is that this morning a post on h-africa  flagged up this new digital archive of Images of African Commemorative Fabrics at the University of Wisconsin  and I thought some of you folks out there would be interested to know about it.  Enjoy!