20 Years Later – The Role of Art and Justice in South Africa’s Democracy

At the entrance to the Constitutional Court of South Africa stands a sculpture of a large man yoked to a cart. His burden is a human one: a man and woman who themselves are seated on the back of a fourth figure kneeling on the cart. At first glance, the sculpture resonates with the history of servitude that marked the dehumanizing institution of apartheid. On closer reflection, the sculpture reveals a more complex message. The sculptor, South African artist Dumile Feni, did not create any racial differentiation between the four figures, and the man drawing the cart is the only figure large and strong enough to accomplish this task. The title of the work is History, and the four figures carry each other in a way that reflects the dependence, the interconnectedness and the tension that have always characterized human relationships. Read more…

Citizens’ Revolt in Burkina Faso

Even the long months of demonstrations and strikes that came before did not fully prepare the people of Burkina Faso for what they would accomplish during the last week of October 2014. In Ouagadougou, the capital, hundreds of thousands—organizers claimed a million—packed the central square on Tuesday, 28 October, to protest President Blaise Compaoré’s “constitutional coup,” as they called his plan to force through an amendment enabling him to run for reelection yet again, after more than a quarter century in power. Read more…

Protests and the Construction of National Security Threats in South Africa

The revelations by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden – that the United States (US) has developed surveillance capacities that make it possible for intelligence agents to surveil all Americans and many non-Americans – have provoked outrage and debate over the extent of their anti-terror policies far beyond their border. This massive overreach has even crept into the monitoring of popular mobilization. Read more…