Category Archives: Africa

Local Users, Local Language, Local Content

Presented at the IAMCR 2012 Conference, Durban, South Africa.

The Ulwazi Programme uses the public library infrastructure, Web 2.0 technologies and the community to collect and disseminate indigenous knowledge and local histories. This user-generated content is compiled in an online digital library in the form of a website and access is provided through current mobile and web technologies. In this paper I describe the history of the programme, its objectives and its structure. The website’s usage statistics are then unpacked to reveal the demographics of its users and popular content, with a focus on the use of the regional vernacular, Zulu.

The Heart of the City

(Chapter written for Undressing Durban book)

Inyanga, Warwick Triangle. Photograph by Roger Jardine.

I’m hopping about on one leg, in the middle of a busy walkway, obstructing morning commuters.  Directly across from me is the herb-sellers market, above me cars funnel into the city while below colourful aprons are strewn across stairs, the ladies selling them sitting on upturned crates.  “Is this the right size?” I ask Crops as I squeeze my foot into a cross-strapped rubber sandal.  “Sure, sure, stretch to fit,” he answers.  Crops makes and sells imbadadada (a home-made shoe or literally ‘someone who walks with an awkward gait’) from a small outlet on the edge of Warwick Triangle.  Pairs are lined up outside his shop, in rows based on style and size. The imbadadada is a thick, hard-wearing sandal, with two straps along the front and one along the back, originally made by Zulu tribesmen.  Johnny Clegg made these shoes popular with a wider audience in the eighties, dancing in a pair on stages across the world.

“I make these myself from the car tires,” Crops tells me.  “It’s an old design.  They first started making them in the 1950s.  The people buy it for the traditional dance or just to wear.  It is comfortable and they last a long time.   I am also making these new styles now, ones with the buckle and ones with Nike.” Continue reading