Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Southern Africa Bound

Tomorrow at the ungodly hour of 5:00 am I begin a three-week trip to southern Africa. The main foci of the trip will be two conferences. One is on South African sports history at the University of Stellenbosch, where I'll be presenting a paper on rugby, race and nationalism in South Africa since the 1995 Eorld Cup, and the Historical Association of South Africa biennial meeting, which I usually try to attand, where I'll give a paper about white supremacy and black resistance in the US and South Africa in the 1940s. The latter conference is at my old home, Rhodes University, and the paper is basically a sectiopn from the introduction from my next book. I also will be conducting research and doing some leisure travel where I can squeeze it in.

But my other goal, and we'll have to see if it is even feasible, is to go to Zimbabwe for a few days to see firsthand the situation there. I have been writing extensively about Zimbabwe lately, and have another op-ed coming out in the Cape Argus tomorrow (in which I manage to invoke the Freedom Rides in a historical analogy. Synergy!) which hopefully won't register with the good folks north of the Limpopo. Zim isn't especially friendly to those practicing journalism without a license, and while I am not a professional journalist, something tells me that such an argument might represent a distinction without a difference in the minds of ZANU-PF thugs. Nonetheless, I want to see what is going on in Zim, and I assume that I am both small beer and that the border control folks do not routinely access Google or read the Cape Argus and remember its contents. Besides, how bad can a Zimbabwean jail be?

The main point is that I'll be away, posting here may be light, most of my on-site reportage will go on the FPA blogs, and I hope to publish some longer pieces either while I'm there or after I get back. Nonetheless I'll update as I can.


Steve said...

Good Luck and be safe. In respect of Zimbabwe, I honestly believe that a little jail time would be good for you and a relief for those students who have signed up for your Fall classes. On a more serious note (hah!) It is not at the border problems of the nature you descibe will arise. Asking questions of a political or electoral nature anywhere in Zimbabwe may well draw unwelcome attention to yourself. As you may have seen, political discussion in Zimbabwe is currently a little on the "robust" side and demands that those with "minority" (anti Bob Mug) beliefs have the ability to run very fast (and that they have somwhere to run to). I believe the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town is very nice at this time of year and much, much safer.

Genuinely, I would seriously caution against traveling to Zimbabwe.

PS: Don't mention Rhodesia, Salisbury or Ian Smith!

dcat said...

Steve --
Thanks. I'll be fine. I'm no fool in these situations, and as they say, you can learn a lot by observing. I'll ask some discrete questions, but basically I want to see and feel and geta sense.
In the last six months I have written more about Zimbabwe than anything else. It's time to get back and see for myself if at all possible.
Trust me, I'll get my Cape Town area down time!