A young Free State intellectual, Fezile Sonkwane, has launched a collection of thought-provoking essays on South Africa’s socio-political issues titled Native Footprints. Welkom born and graduate of the Central University of Technology (CUT) Sonkwane is one of the first of its alumni to publish a book. The idea for the book developed from columns he wrote for the provincial newspaper, The Weekly.
“I wrote the book primarily because I am an opinion-maker, I comment a lot about socio-political issues and this was a great opportunity to document it all,” he said. “I think the book is the great tool society can use to understand how the youth perceive the world around them. It is written by a young person and seeks to address the very issues that concern us.”
He added that he is not re-inventing the wheel but is making a contribution in the socio-political discourse affecting the youth.
Political Analyst, Professor Sipho Seepe, has commented that the book was a “refreshing contribution to the body of political and social commentary”.
“For Sonkwane, our challenges are much more complex, and socio-historical and do not lend themselves to the now familiar, and probably worn-out attribution of each and every problem to a single individual or political formation,” he said. “ This in itself is remarkable for someone so young.”
After launching the book at his alma mater, he opened the debate at a dialogue session at the University of the Free State (UFS). This was part of an extended book tour to take the issues raised in the book to a broader audience across the province.
Joining him on a panel discussion, facilitated by CUT FM current affairs host Boitumelo Molelekoa, were former UFS Student Representative Council President, Phiwe Mathe, Youth Activist Jerry Mokoroane and the author of Life out of the Ordinary, Ntshala Mahasa. The discussions took place at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ).
One of Sonkwane’s central arguments was that the ANC had only achieved achieved political power leaving the economy in the hands of the white minority. A number of his essays are upfront about the poor performance of the ANC. He does not spare anyone and brings a fresh young voice into the current debates. He was also critical of the TRC process. The panellists echoed his sentiments.
Mathe posed a challenge to his generation to consider where the TRC had missed the point. He felt that it had forgive and forget overtones. “Let us, as young people, open something similar to the TRC but see where it missed the point,” he said. “ It only addressed the spiritual and the moral issues but it did not address the material [such as] the issue of land.”
Mahasa, who recently penned his debut novel, Life out of the Ordinary, was also in agreement.
Mokoroane brought an interesting contribution to the discussion. He argued that pro-Black speak should be understood as means to broaden the narrative as opposed to being biased.
“Pro-black has been mistaken [a] lot with being anti-white. When you talk about black empowerment [immediately] it is associated to saying you hate white people [and it is not so]”, he said.
The book tour continues on 21 November as Sonkwane re-launches at CUT Welkom campus.
You can follow him on Twitter (@FezileSonkwane), his blog www.fezilesonkwane.wordpress.com or on Facebook (Facebook.com/fezilesonkwane) to be updated on the rest of the book tour.
Image of the book tour’s panel discussion is courtesy of Ikageng Hoko. The image of the book cover and the author was supplied by Fezile Sonkwane.