Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Celebrating one year !

This post in a sense announce, but also want to celebrate the 1st year
birthday of Bruindevelopment Forum-BDF. Of course, the conversations on
Bruindevelopment comes a long way, and will continue after BDF. Thanks
to all the visitors and those that left comments and sent emails. I
however, cannot remember the exact date of our first post, but know that
it started somewhere in January 2007. ( It shouldn't be too difficult to
look this up in the archives). Anyway, the story of BDF started in an
informal conversation, on the question what and how are we to respond to
the plight of bruin communities, progresively and positively, but also
without the usual racist undertones or crude ethnic nationalism that
sometimes undergird, political processes, like voting and party
formation. This is not the agenda of BDF. Starting with the blog,
hesitantly and without a clue or background of webdesign, journalism or
serious writing, was a risk. We do it hesitantly for a second reason: we
need to bear in mind that some would argue that this conversation is
irrelevant or even an embarrasing relic of the past. Afterall, we want
to move on in the rainbow-nation, or on the other hand maintain our
struggle identity and credentials, in the new South Africa ( or even new
world).

This is however not the full picture of our current reality. Race
categories of Coloured, white, Indian, African, are still with us,
officially. We've also refered to the reality that more and more young
professional and connnected people would describe themselves as loudly
and proudly as Coloured, struggling with the older generation of
comrades and activists, who (still) call themselves black. So, what are
we to do with this? Should we deny, or write it away or simply omit it,
consciously- this upsurge of consciousness ? The book edited by Zimitri
Erasmus, Coloured by History, shaped by place, helped us to find some
theoretical framework for our conversation. This book, based on a
conference, held in the late 1990's, at the UCT aimed to deal with this
question, whilst aiming to get beyond populist and superficial
explanations of coloured identity formation. The one explanation namely
of defining Coloured people as mixed has been shown to reify the
colonial myth of pure races. Like Erasmus and others, we argue for the
salience of cultural creativity and hybridity, shaped by the social
context. South Africa's new context, as refered to earlier, shapes new
identities, which selectively appropriate a wide array of cultural,
spiritual, ethnic, georgraphical resources, in order to shape. identity
in a postcolonial context, a context of global capital, and flows of
information and cultural goods. In sense, for all of us, an expreience
of diaspora, of exile challenge all to re-imagine new identities, as the
basis for development and social transformation. In this respect,
Manuel Castell's analysis of the Network society and the Power of
Identity is relevant, as it helps to provide a lense to be able to read
our current context and the processes of identity formation.

In coming back to Bruindevelopment forum, we aim to provide space for
conversations that transcend racist ideology, by grapple seriously with
a postcolonial context. In this respect, we want to keep on reflecting
on the role of media, popular culture as well as other cultural
indistries, aiming at stimulating some interesting conversation, or at
least, alternative perspectives and stories, specifically then, from the
Bruin perspective then. We would want to network with others on this
conversation, talking, debating and telling stories, thus building
community. Of course, we cannot be everything to everybody and certainly
we cannot provide for the needs of all in this space. In this respect we
would be quite willing to refer and link this small conversation to
other links. May this year be a time of some wonderful conversation and
we invite even those who would disagree, with the aim at honestly
dealing with our very complex context.

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