Thursday, 13 September 2018 | 4 pm to 6:45 pm (followed by reception)

4 pm

Welcome & introduction

► Ambassador Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele, Head of Mission, South African Embassy, Berne
► Veit Arlt, Executive Director, Centre for African Studies, University of Basel

4:15 pm


Making a Difference

► Sathyandranath ‘Mac’ Maharaj
► Elísio Macamo
► Therese Steffen
► Danelle van Zyl

Read more…

5:15 pm


5:45 pm


Celebrating Hope and Human Creativity

► Giorgio Miescher
► Fatima Mukaddam
► Sophie Oldfield
► Lorena Rizzo

Read more…

6:45 pm


7:00 pm

Welcome notes

► Ambassador Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele
► Elísio Macamo

7:15 pm



Making a Difference

Photo: GCIS

Sathyandranath “Mac” Maharaj

As a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC), its armed wing Umkhonto weSizwe, and of the South African Communist Party, Mac Maharaj played a pivotal role in South Africa’s liberation struggle. He was imprisoned in Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela and later lived in exile. As secretary of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA), Mac Maharaj was involved in negotiations on the transition from apartheid to democracy. He became Minister of Transport in South Africa’s first democratically elected government and, later, a director at FirstRand Bank and spokesperson of former President Jacob Zuma.

Reflections in Prison

While imprisoned on Robben Island, Nelson Mandela and several of his comrades wrote essays on South Africa’s political future. Fellow prisoner Mac Maharaj smuggled the manuscripts out and published them in the volume Reflections in Prison: Voices from the South African liberation struggle. The essays, written by Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and others, offer insights into the ideas, strategies and hopes of some of the most important anti-apartheid movement leaders on the eve of the 1976 Soweto uprising. We discuss the essays and their meaning for the present and future in South Africa and beyond with the editor, Mac Maharaj.


Elísio Macamo, Professor for African Studies/Director of the Centre for African Studies, University of Basel

Therese Steffen, Professor for English literature em., University of Basel

Danelle van Zyl, postdoc fellow, Department of History, University of Basel


Celebrating Hope and Human Creativity

This panel offers an opportunity to reflect about manifestations of and inspirations for hope and creativity in the long struggle to overcome apartheid and the short history of democratic South Africa. Scholars relate to their own research on South Africa and beyond in order to discuss with what we can learn from the South African experience.


Giorgio Miescher, senior lecturer, Centre for African Studies Basel

Fatima Mukaddam, PhD candidate, University of Luzern

Sophie Oldfield, Professor of Urban Studies, Universit of Basel and University of Cape Town

Lorena Rizzo, senior lecturer, Centre for African Studies Basel


The Swiss-South African Jazz Quintet

Since Feya Faku’s 2006 residency at the bird’s eye jazz club in Basel, this band has performed the music of its leader—based as much in Hardbop as in the music traditions of the Eastern Cape. The outstanding vocalist Siya Makuzeni, the sensitive pianist Jean-Paul Brodbeck, the grooving bass of Fabian Gisler and Dominic Egli on drums provide an ideal rhythm section that equally supports and challenges.


Siya Makuzeni (vocals/bow/trombone)
Feya Faku (trumpet/flugelhorn)
Jean-Paul Brodbeck (piano)
Fabian Gisler (bass)
Dominic Egli (drums)