|* We learned from John Holloway and Eloina that “Itacate” means Padkos in the main indigenous language of Mexico called Nahuatl!
We were honoured to host John Holloway and his wife Eloina for the KwaZulu-Natal leg of their time in South Africa as guests of Rhodes University. His thinking and writing have long been an inspiration to us at CLP, so his visit was eagerly anticipated. But it’s quite clear that the impact of his being here exceeded even those exaggerated expectations.
In this brief note we can’t possibly convey the many ways in which people have told us about the profound impact of John’s being and his presence with us. Some written comments we’ve received after John’s Padkos event and the seminar we co-hosted with the Paulo Freire Project were:
“I’m just enormously grateful for CLP and the Paulo Freire Project’s good humanity for bringing us in. Thank you for your energy and life. Thinking through Holloway’s ‘politics of dignity,’ I know is something that is going to profoundly affect how I ‘do’ and ‘be”.
“Reading Holloway on the side is creating an existential crisis!!” says a busy academic who is chasing “crazy deadlines” on projects that are all about trying to make the state function better!
“John’s humility came through in his personality straight away. He has a very quiet nature but is still straight forward and tells it like it is.
“It was really a humbling experience for me. John had lots of questions for us as CLP and for comrades in the movements. He wanted to know more. It was not only one-way information. He gave and he received. I heard simple phrases from him that made so much sense. He also heard phrases that we used like ‘Sekwanele’ and he used them too in his engagements. He listened respectfully and with intent to hear everything that was said.
“His time here was not about him giving people a recipe for how things should be done and what will work. He didn’t come off as the academic who had all the answers. Everything he did and said, was done with deep respect for all and in complete humility”.
Part of your Padkos hamper this time around are 2 more Holloway morsels that we’ve attached: one is a feature article, based on an interview with Holloway, published in the regional daily mass-circulation paper, The Witness; the other records the opening comments John made at his final engagement at Rhodes University before returning home to Mexico titled: “Lineages of freedom”.
CLP’s Graham Philpott was asked to make an input for a panel discussion recently on the topic: “Faith communities, philanthropy and social change: A giant awakes?”. We felt obliged to try to bring some of our critical thinking to bear on this set of dangerously debased concepts! Although faith is deeply embedded in much of CLP, we shudder at the prospect of faith communities becoming ‘giants’ because historically we’ve seen it before – and it is always and only because of their complicity with the interests and ideologies of power, of empire, of capital, of oppression! Equally, although the idea of ‘philanthropy’ might have its roots in the Greek words for the love (philos) of human beings (anthropos), it’s practice is saturated with the patronising contempt, and relentless insults to dignity, of the charity of the powerful and the wealthy. Read the text of CLP’s presentation in the attached piece titled “Philanthropy and dignity”.
Join us at CLP on Friday 9th November from 12:30 onwards for a fairly informal conversation with visiting Russian researcher, Daria Zelenova (of the Institute for African Studies, Moscow). Over the last few years, Daria’s research work has looked at the practices of self-organization and self-empowerment that characterised much of the popular struggle in South Africa in the 1980s. Her interest is not simply historical though. What she’s considering is its role in contemporary political protest here. From our side, we’d also be interested to know why this matters to a Russian researcher and to the world?
While we make and share some lunch together, come and meet Daria and participate in this important conversation:
“It’s widely known that the 1980s in South Africa was a crucial period in the struggle against apartheid, when mass participation of the people in resistance to the regime had created an unprecedented experience of social and political self-organization. … The struggles waged in the local communities by marginalized segregated population led to establishing alternative organs of people’s power: street, block and yard committees, regular meetings and people’s courts as well as various socio-economic projects, which were operating outside state’s control. …
“After the ANC came to power, the growth of state violence and a return to repressive measures against … dissent … (more than often, the marginalized poor people’s communities) we can observe the revival of many of those political practices that were widely used in townships as a self-empowering practice and as means of struggle against apartheid regime” (Zelenova).
Read the Attachment – Philanthropy and Dignity
Read the Attachment – Lineages of Freedom
Read the Attachment – Tsunami of small rebellions