On August 16, 2012, South African police shot and killed 34 miners at a platinum mine in South Africa’s Northwest province. The workers had been on strike to demand better pay and an improvement in their working conditions. The mine belonged to a British multinational firm. One of the board members was Cyril Ramaphosa, now South Africa’s President. At the time, it was Ramaphosa who advised the directors of the company to call in the police. Two weeks later, the government appointed a public commission; a favorite South African pastime that outlived colonialism and apartheid and which usually results in no one being held accountable, the problem resolved, or any redress paid to the victims. The Marikana Commission of Inquiry was no exception.
In any case, as AIAC editorial board member, Dan Magaziner, and I wrote at the end of August 2012, the Marikana mine killings in August 2012 showed that South Africa was no longer exceptional: That its problems are no longer specific to the apartheid legacy, but about more global issues of poverty and inequality. We wrote this because in the mainstream media Marikana was framed mostly as disappointment with the new South Africa and its leaders, but as Dan and I concluded: “Rather than judge South Africa in the wake of this 21st century Sharpeville [with reference to another episode under apartheid where the police shot 21 black people protesting the pass system], the rest of the world ought to ask what kind of community post-apartheid South Africa has joined.”
This is also where we think we are now. In fact, we have been thinking that for a while. That, while it easy to focus on the failures of post-independence Africa (and there’s a lot there), we feel that, going forward, it is more useful to ask what world we joined and what can we do to change that world. And what conversations can we have with fellows in Asia and Africa or with the movements of marginalized people in the global North (and places like Australia and Japan) to arrive at new ideas and new tactics to deal with old and new problems: class inequalities, racism, climate crisis, political representation, authoritarianism, erosion of work, and migration and borders, among others. Luckily, we have a break now to sharpen our tools to take on this task with new energy. Till right after August 28th.
That means we won’t be publishing any new material on our website, produce our livestream show, or videos on our Instagram channel. Of course, we will tweet occasionally and post on our Facebook page, and you can always catch up on the archive.