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TRADITIONS 1: Introduction Kopano Ratele, Presented 18 November 2009, Soweto Hotel/Johannesburg Development Agency, Soweto, South Africa.

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Presentation on theme: "TRADITIONS 1: Introduction Kopano Ratele, Presented 18 November 2009, Soweto Hotel/Johannesburg Development Agency, Soweto, South Africa."— Presentation transcript:

1 TRADITIONS 1: Introduction Kopano Ratele, Presented 18 November 2009, Soweto Hotel/Johannesburg Development Agency, Soweto, South Africa

2 Are traditions important? Tradition is rarely if ever unimportant. “Tradition” attaches to itself highly contested values and is almost never used dispassionately, because it is usually seen either as source of unquestionable legitimacy or to suggest the backwardness of others (Spiegel & Boonzaier 1988).

3 How tradition is understood? The intergenerational transmission of ideas, conventions and practices – (which akin to the concept of social influence) Time/timelessness and change/sameness in understanding tradition No rule how long a practice must have existed before it qualifies as tradition; and the assumption that traditions are handed down wholly unchanged is not always correct – thus the popular notion of the invention of tradition Yet as much as traditions rarely stay completely the same, they can never be invented out of whole cloth, but over time is dynamically interpreted An enduring but often erroneous connotation of tradition (as never changing) is thus one that sets it up against modernity (as constantly changing)

4 A certain kind of person If you wish to be a certain kind of thinker, actor, and above all, a certain kind of person, I believe it is important to know that there is a tradition of reflection, doing and being for such persons as you – to follow, enhance, change, or reject.

5 Which traditions?


7 A man who has been the indisputable favourite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror In its function, the power to punish is not essentially different from that of curing or educating. The basic confrontation which seemed to be colonialism versus anti-colonialism, indeed capitalism versus socialism, is already losing its importance. What matters today, the issue which blocks the horizon, is the need for a redistribution of wealth. Humanity will have to address this question, no matter how devastating the consequences may be.


9 But why traditions? I’m interested in the way in which the past affects the present and I think that if we understand a good deal more about history, we automatically understand a great more about contemporary life. To pin myself down in history, place myself in the stream of time as significant, evolved, present in the past, continuing into the future.


11 Building, influencing and changing traditions Is it important to influence one another’s traditions? –It seems that, like a bad penny, this is one topic that refuses to lapse, given the vituperative criticism directed at the book by Messrs Kopano Ratele and Solani Ngobeni ("Local publishing in need of colour, not drivel", Mail & Guardian, June 20 to 26, 2007). This time the argument is inflected with a self-righteous tone of the black middle-class preening in its glorification of its interests. …It is only fair that I engage with the concerns of these two writers, if only to provide balance to what I perceive as an ingrained inability to think literary matters through, the wilful ability to ignore the context within which a text such as this one may arise. …If anything, Kgebetli Moele is a brave young man whose efforts should not suffer the idiocies of newly self-appointed censors... And why does music offer the way out for (Moele’s people)? Well, for that one has to read the excellent article by yet another black "lazy scholar", Bhekizizwe Peterson to unpack this obsession …. Peterson shows how, unlike Senegalese youth, who will riot when there is no state employment open to them, South African youth, stuck between an immediate past where, for many, very little meaningful education was possible, and a "transitional" present where the "fruits" of post-apartheid society seem a rumour by the upper classes, young blacks in the ghetto use the notion of hustling, "ukupanda", or to "make life" as their armour.Local publishing in need of colour, not drivel

12 Building, influencing and changing traditions Is it important to influence traditions in our societies? –“When a woman didn’t enjoy it, she leaves early in the morning. Those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money. In the morning, that lady requested breakfast and taxi money. You can’t ask for money from somebody who raped you.” Julius Malema, 27 January 2009, on the rape complainant against Jacob Zuma.

13 Building, influencing and changing traditions Do we have anything in common?

14 What is Traditions? Traditions 1 is part of the Changing Traditions project, a transdisciplinary, international, Africa- centred undertaking which turns around the areas of wealth, identity, peace and equality. Changing Traditions is a strategic project of the Institute with support from the University. Changing Traditions forms part of a set of projects under the Programme on Traditions and Transformation (POTT).

15 Specific questions What African traditions exist around wealth-building in families, communities, societies, and nations; and if none exist how can we build them? What African traditions are available regarding making positive identities? What African traditions are there in respect of making and building peace, safety and non-violence for persons? What do African traditions have to say about racial, sexual and gender equality?

16 Pitso and e-kgotla Changing Traditions revolves around an annual combination of a travelling pitso and an e-kgotla The annual travelling pitso is to be staged in different countries around the African continent and the beginnings of the e-kgotla are hosted on an existing electronic platform. There will be several other ‘callings’ and dissemination lipitso around the continent and the world.

17 Collaboration on traditions It is envisaged that each of lipitso will deliver a number of “products”, or support in one way or another the delivery of products over its lifetime The kinds of products may include but are not limited to a research project, special edition of a journal, journal article, art pieces, exhibition, documentary film or book. An important criterion for the creation of a product will be that it reinforces collaboration and is explicitly intended to build, challenge, or reinvent tradition. From 2010 the lipitso will be hosted in other African countries which are still to be decided on.

18 Thank you.

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