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From Memory to Marble: The Historical Frieze of the Voortrekker Monument, Part I: The Frieze

For the first time the 92-metre frieze of the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, one of the largest historical narratives in marble, has been made the subject of a book.

 

The pictorial narrative of the Boer pioneers who conquered South Africa’s interior during the ‘Great Trek’ (1835-52) represents a crucial period of South Africa’s past. Forming the concept of the frieze both reflected on and contributed to the country’s socio-political debates in the 1930s and 1940s when it was made. The frieze is unique in that it provides rare evidence of the complex processes followed in creating a major monument.

 

Based on unpublished documents, drawings and models, these processes are unfolded step by step, from the earliest discussions of the purpose and content of the frieze through all the stages of its design to its shipping to post-war Italy to be copied into marble and final installation in the Monument. The book examines how visual representation transforms historical memory in what it chooses to recount, and the forms in which it depicts this. It also investigates the active role the Monument played in the development of apartheid, and its place in post-apartheid heritage.

 

The second volume, to be published later this year, expands on the first, considering each of the twenty-seven scenes in depth, providing new insights into not only the frieze, but also South Africa’s history.

 

Published in collaboration with De Gruyter, Berlin.

Science Communication in South Africa: Reflections on Current Issues

Why do we need to communicate science? Is science, with its highly specialised language and its arcane methods, too distant to be understood by the public? Is it really possible for citizens to participate meaningfully in scientific research projects and debate? Should scientists be mandated to engage with the public to facilitate better understanding of science? How can they best communicate their special knowledge to be intelligible? These and a plethora of related questions are being raised by researchers and politicians alike as they have become convinced that science and society need to draw nearer to one another.

Once the persuasion took hold that science should open up to the public and these questions were raised, it became clear that coming up with satisfactory answers would be a complex challenge. The inaccessibility of scientific language and methods, due to ever increasing specialisation, is at the base of its very success. Thus, translating specialised knowledge to become understandable, interesting and relevant to various publics creates particular perils. This is exacerbated by the ongoing disruption of the public discourse through the digitisation of communication platforms. For example, the availability of medical knowledge on the internet and the immense opportunities to inform oneself about health risks via social media are undermined by the manipulable nature of this technology that does not allow its users to distinguish between credible content and misinformation.

In countries around the world, scientists, policy-makers and the public have high hopes for science communication: that it may elevate its populations educationally, that it may raise the level of sound decision-making for people in their daily lives, and that it may contribute to innovation and economic well-being. This collection of current reflections gives an insight into the issues that have to be addressed by research to reach these noble goals, for South Africa and by South Africans in particular.

Sharing Knowledge, Transforming Societies: The Norhed Programme 2013-2020

In June 2016, the Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (Norhed) hosted a conference on the theme of ‘knowledge for development’ in an attempt to shift the focus of the programme towards its academic content. This book follows up on that event.

 

The conference highlighted the usefulness of presenting the value of Norhed’s different projects to the world, showing how they improve knowledge and expand access to it through co-operation. A wish for more meta-knowledge was also expressed and this gives rise to the following questions:

 

  • Is this way of co-operating contributing to the growth of independent post-colonial knowledge production in the South, based on analyses of local data and experiences in ways that are relevant to our shared future?
  • Does the growth of academic independence, as well as greater equality, and the ability to develop theories different to those imposed by the better-off parts of the world, give rise to deeper understandings and better explanations?
  • Does it, at least, spread the ability to translate existing methodologies in ways that add meaning to observations of local context and data, and thus enhance the relevance and influence of the academic profession locally and internationally?
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    Ubushakashatsi mu Bumenyi Nyamuntu n’Imibanire y’Abantu

    Mu bihugu byakataje mu majyambere, usanga ubushakashatsi ari itara rimurikira ibikorwa by’amajyambere kandi bukaba n’umuyoboro w’iterambere rirambye haba mu bukungu, ubumenyi n’ikoranabuhanga, imibereho myiza y’abaturage, imiyoborere y’igihugu, umutekano n’ibindi.  

     

    Kuba abashakashatsi bo mu bihugu bikiri mu nzira y’amajyamberere badakoresha cyane indimi zabo kavukire mu gukora ubushakashatsi no mu guhererekanya n’abandi ubumenyi bwavumbuwe hirya no hino ku isi bishobora kuba biri ku isonga mu bibangamira iterambere rirambye, ryihuta kandi rigera kuri benshi. Gukoresha ururimi abenegihugu bahuriyeho mu nzego zose – abashakashatsi, abanyeshuri n’abarimu, abafata ibyemezo, abaturage n’abandi bakenera ubushakashatsi cyangwa ibyabuvuyemo – bishobora gutuma hahangwa ubumenyi bwegereye abagenerwabikorwa, bakabugira ubwabo, bakabusangira kandi bakabusigasira. Ngicyo icyatumwe twandika iki gitabo mu Kinyarwanda. Tugamije kuzamura ireme ry’ubushakashatsi mu bumenyi nyamuntu n’imibanire y’abantu. Tugamije kandi kwimakaza ubwumvane hagati y’abafatanyabikorwa bose haba mu gutegura umushinga w’ubushakashatsi, kuwushyira mu bikorwa, gusesengura, kugenzura ndetse no gusuzuma uko ubushakashatsi bwagenze n’umusaruro bwatanze.

     

    Research Methods in the Social Sciences and Humanities

    Research in developed countries is often considered as a means to pave the way towards sustainable development in different areas of the society including science and technology, the economy, governance and security.

     

    Researchers in developing countries rarely have the opportunity to use their indigenous languages to design, plan and conduct research. Nor do they communicate in their indigenous languages to share their insights and learnings from other parts of the world with colleagues or students.

     

    Utilising the languages that researchers, students and teachers, policymakers, the community, and others interested in research understand better can help to generate new knowledge embedded in local realities where sustainable development needs to take root. That is why this book is in Kinyarwanda.

     

    The authors hope that writing this book in Kinyarwanda will increase research capacity in the humanities and social sciences in Rwanda and in the region. And that it will increase interaction between all key stakeholders in the planning and conducting of research as well as in analysing, monitoring and evaluating the research process and its outputs.]

    The Musical Artistry of Bheki Mseleku

    Bheki Mseleku is widely considered one of the most accomplished jazz musicians to have emerged from South Africa. His music has a profound significance in recalling and giving emphasis to that aspect of the African American jazz tradition originating in the rhythms and melodies of Africa. The influences of Zulu traditional music, South African township, classical music and American jazz are clearly evident and combine to create an exquisite and particularly lyrical style, evoking a sense of purity and peace that embraces the spiritual healing quality central to his musical inspiration.

    The Artistry of Bheki Mseleku is an in-depth study of his musical style and includes annotated transcriptions and analysis of a selection of compositions and improvisations from his most acclaimed albums including ‘Celebration’, ‘Timelessness’, ‘Star Seeding’, ‘Beauty Of Sunrise’ and ‘Home at Last’. Mseleku recorded with several American jazz greats including Ravi Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Pharoah Sanders, Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins and Abbey Lincoln. His music serves as a vital link to the African–American musical art form that inspired many of the South African jazz legends.

    State of Open Data

    It’s been ten years since open data first broke onto the global stage. Over the past decade, thousands of programmes and projects around the world have worked to open data and use it to address a myriad of social and economic challenges. Meanwhile, issues related to data rights and privacy have moved to the centre of public and political discourse. As the open data movement enters a new phase in its evolution, shifting to target real-world problems and embed open data thinking into other existing or emerging communities of practice, big questions still remain. How will open data initiatives respond to new concerns about privacy, inclusion, and artificial intelligence? And what can we learn from the last decade in order to deliver impact where it is most needed? The State of Open Data brings together over 60 authors from around the world to address these questions and to take stock of the real progress made to date across sectors and around the world, uncovering the issues that will shape the future of open data in the years to come.

     

    WEBSITE

    Visit the State of Open Data website to read the book online, download individual chapters and to read blog posts about the book.