In 1978, thirty years after Apartheid was officially established by the National Party, the South African government faced a political
scandal over a secret propaganda war that was designed both to influence local public opinion and rebrand the racial institution at
international level. Exposed by two Rand Daily Mail journalists, the Information scandal was nicknamed ‘Muldergate’ by reference
to the early 1970s’ Watergate revelations that lead to Richard Nixon’s resignation. Nowadays, the political masterful manipulation would have been better described with the 2017’s word of the year ‘fake news’. With the ANC in exile, ‘the issue of culture began to rise steadily in prominence within the movement, particularly in the 1980s. This intensifying interest in culture saw rising numbers of workshops, festivals and seminars devoted to the issue, interviews and public pronouncements by leading ANC figures, and the high-profile Culture in Another South Africa (CASA) conference held in Amsterdam in December 1987.
As the end of Apartheid approached, lawyer and activist Albie Sachs’s thoughts on ‘Preparing Ourselves for Freedom’ started with the controversial proposition of reconsidering ‘culture [as] a weapon of struggle’, stressing his concern on how art could address the new political era. To what extent has the freed South Africa emerged as a changed society in the 21st century? A report published by the World Bank in March 2018 reveals that South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world. This report is an analysis of South Africa’s progress in reducing poverty and inequality since 1994 : while poverty levels are lower today they still remain high, wealth inequality has been rising and consumption inequality has increased. Moreover, ‘poverty levels are consistently highest among female-headed households, black South Africans, and children below the age of 15 and these groups tend to have a higher risk of falling into poverty’.
24 years after the advent of democracy, a ‘post-apartheid apartheid’, as some have dubbed it, has somehow emerged. Within this context, has culture been re-reconsidered as a weapon of struggle? Have conceptions emerged of what culture’s role should be both in external critical information work about this ‘post-apartheid apartheid’ and in internally focused work of nation-building?
In the 2010s, events such as Nelson Mandela’s death and the Marikana massacre have been catalysing anguishes about the
fabrication of national narratives, icons and images. This has led to a partial deconstruction of representations as carriers of
colonial and apartheid ideologies, or post-apartheid ideologies pertaining to a ‘rainbow nation’ perceived as a construct. In what is sometimes referred to as the post-post-apartheid era, what role can and should the media play in the depiction of South African
realities, in South Africa and abroad? In parallel, social media have begun to transform the relations between images, information
and audiences. As social media shaped the way student movements shared information to local communities and to the world, new modes of production and distribution of filmed images have emerged, for instance with the form of the web-series.