A deeper look at Mpe’s South Africa

During the reading of Welcome to Our Hillbrow, I was particularly struck by the use of seemingly anachronistic and brutal traditions in post-apartheid South Africa. Attached below are two links which very much illuminate two cultural phenomena in late 20th-century South Africa.

1. An explanation about South African “sangomas”, or traditional witch doctors.


2. An essay analyzing South Africa’s necklacing tradition. Long but definitely worth reading.



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  1. Anachronistic is your favourite word! But yes, it is seemingly out of time and and out of place, especially in the late 20th century of all times. The duality of traditional and mystical beliefs vís a vís the modern urban centre that is Jo’burg is striking, and one wonders how they can coexist – especially in such proximity to one another, and with such an intimate shared connection.

  2. ‘anachronistic and brutal traditions’, eh? A quick skim-through the last two hundred years of South African history are hinting on the fact that South Africa turns out to be a cradle of not just physically, but much so politically ‘anachronistic and brutal traditions.’ And as a matter of fact, it stems all the way from Boer nationalism of 1830s i.e. so-called ‘Great Trek’ heritage up to modern-day, still-living ‘Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging’ political movement. To put it rather brashly, I’m not that surprised in fact: after all, not just everything that rises, but also everything that stalls has to converge.

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