Below The Surface

The murder of an environmental activist reveals the complexities and corruption in South Africa’s mining industry

SANELISWE RADEBE was alone in the living room when the gunmen arrived. Sitting on the sofa watching TV, the slender 17-year old heard a vehicle crawl toward the house in low gear. It was March of 2016, near the end of the South African summer, and already dark outside at 7:30 p.m. A blue light flashed through the curtains. “It’s the police. We’re looking for Bazooka,” one of the men shouted, thumping on the front door.

Bazooka Radebe, Saneliswe’s father, was in an adjacent room. He had taken his trousers off after work, like he did most evenings, and was dressed in a black shirt and underwear. He didn’t emerge when Saneliswe shouted for him, so the boy opened the front door. The two men wore gloves and plain clothes. One carried an assault rifle, the other a pistol. They lifted their weapons and shoved Saneliswe backward, forcing their way inside. “We’ve come to arrest your father,” they said, looking around at the empty chairs.

Keep Reading

Ravi Naidoo

The relentless dot connector elevating Africa’s creative reputation

Ravi Naidoo tends not to falter. One wonders when he rests. His energy fills any room he enters, and despite his broad frame, he moves lightly, swiveling on his toes as conversation dictates. He speaks in paragraphs, not sentences, with a radio presenter’s attention to phrasing. He laughs quickly. He remembers names. After 20 years in the engine room of South Africa’s creative economy, which in the same period has grown from a backwater industry into a thriving international hub, Naidoo has mastered the art of engagement and building relationships. It’s a skill that appears effortless but demands great focus and drive. In Naidoo’s company—which is charming, but also taxing—you can just about hear him think.

At 51, Naidoo is one of the leading figures in Cape Town’s vibrant design scene, coordinating its premier annual event: the Design Indaba Festival. Indaba is part conference, part expo, drawing together a wide mix of creative professionals from around the globe in a celebration of artistic endeavor. Speakers this past February included Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey, Senegalese photographer Omar Victor Diop, and William Kentridge, one of South Africa’s most highly acclaimed visual artists. “Other events have started emulating what we do,” says Naidoo. “Imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Keep Reading

After a Month of Protests, University of Cape Town Removes Major Monument

The 81-year-old statue memorialized a British colonizer of Africa, but for many also symbolized South Africa’s harsh history of oppression.

On Thursday evening, a controversial statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes was hoisted from its plinth at the University of Cape Town (UCT), sealing a round of protests against institutional racism that started with a bucket of human excrement exactly one month earlier, on March 9.

Keep Reading