The Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) within the School of Applied Human Sciences, College of Humanities in association with the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) and the Critical Arts journal hosted the first virtual Ntongela Masilela Colloquium.
The aim of the colloquium was to commemorate and critically engage Professor Ntongela Masilela’s historical and scholarly contribution. Masilela coined the term “the New African Movement” to theorise the work of influential intellectuals who turned modernity on its head by using its tools to advance a counter-hegemonic project of freedom and liberation.
Colloquium convenor, Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli (CCMS) said, ‘Masilela, who died last year, was at one time or another a member of the editorial boards of both Critical Arts and the Journal of African Cinemas. He played a formative role in Critical Arts especially, and had an indelible impact more widely with his theory of the New African Movement, the 300+ intellectuals whom he identified as shaping South Africa’s entry into modernity, discussed in his many books published by Africa World Press.’
She added, ‘The webinar is a testament to Ntongela’s work, and Critical Arts will be publishing a special issue from the work presented here.’ It will be edited by Dr Jeffrey Sehume, Dr Bongani Ngqulunga and Mr Busani Ngcaweni. Teer-Tomaselli highlighted Masilela’s continuing contribution to Africanising scholarship: ‘As he spent so much time abroad, first in enforced exile and then as a roving global scholar, his contribution to post-colonial studies has yet to be appreciated by many South African scholars’.
Speakers included Dr Bongani Ngqulunga, Dr Themba Masilela, Professor Isabela Balseiro, Professor Zodwa Mosta, Mr Sandile Ngidi, Dr Jeffrey Sehume, Professor Keyan Tomaselli, Professor Michael Masemola, Professor Nomalanga Mkhize, Ms Qawekazi Maqabuka, Mr Melathisi Mthembu, Professor Tinyiko Maluleke, Professor Mxolisi Ndlovu and Professor Paul Tembe.
Critical Arts co-editor and CCMS Associate Professor Lauren Dyll said, ‘It’s Professor Masilela’s anti-fundamentalist stance in not being “categorised” and his belief in the value of consciousness of precedent that is useful for scholars, thinkers and authors today. In this we can all continue to learn from cross-cultural and transdisciplinary conversations; hybrid identifications, and the continuities and disjunctures from the past, as well as between epistemologies. In this way Critical Arts can continue to be an extension of Professor Masilela’s New African Movement archival project.’