Cultural Resistance on Robben Island

Songs of Struggle and Liberation in South Africa: Izingoma Zo Mzabalazo Esiqithini!

Cultural Resistance on Robben Island

Thursday, April 4, 2024
Time to be announced (Pacific Time)
UCLA Bunche Hall, Rm # 6275 (History Dept. conference room)

Image for Calendar Button

The idea of the role of izingoma zo mzabalazo (struggle songs) in the African liberation struggle in South Africa that this book, Cultural Resistance on Robben Island: Songs of Struggle and Liberation in South Africa, addresses is to give attention to the ‘songs-ical’ and musical responses of the African and black people to the apartheid administrations between the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 and the closure of Robben Island as political prison in 1991. Robben island Maximum-Security Prison—Alcatraz of the apartheid state in South Africa—gives me the opportunity to write about all the African liberation movements and their members who were incarcerated on the Island. The community of political prisoners on Robben Island, regardless of their different and at times, confrontational ideologies, had to find (re)sources inside their humanity to survive the brutality of their circumstances. Culture, I argue throughout this book, became that bastion for them. In the wise words of Govan Mbeki, ‘cultural activity was not provided by the authorities, we had to provide it ourselves.

Speaker Bio

Neo Lekgotla laga Ramoupi, PhD.  is South African, an Associate Professor in the History Department at the University of Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein, Free State Province, in South Africa; and a Mellon Inclusive Professoriate Fellow: 2023 – 2024.

Neo graduated from Howard University with a PhD in African history and minors in African Studies and Public History in May 2013. Before joining UFS in 2022, Neo was a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Witwatersrand (WITS) in Johannesburg for five years, where he taught in the Wits School of Education as a Senior Lecturer for five years.

He's the co-editor (with Noel Solani Andre Odendaal and Khwezi Ka Mpumlwana) of a 2021 publication, Robben Island and Rainbow Dreams: The Making of Robben Island: The Making of Robben Island Museum, First Official Heritage Institution of Democratic South Africa (Pretoria: HSRC Press/BestRed).

Neo is a member of the Editorial Board of African History Review, at UNISA, of the Black Histories Dialogue; and in the Advisory Board of America’s Voices Against Apartheid (AVAA), whose exhibition was officially opened at the Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg, in May 2023 and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in September 2023.
His research, teaching interests and focuses are around the Decolonizing & Africanizing of (South) African History, Heritage, and History of Education.


Sponsor(s): African Studies, African Studies, Department of Ethnomusicology, Department of History