The Chronic: A Time Machine Newspaper
Yesterday (October 18, 2011) the New York Times reported that in a new wave of xenophobia residents of the South African town of Alexandra are giving foreigners seven days to vacate RDP houses. As part of the campaign, residents have hung up posters which read: “You are violating our rights to own our RDP houses” and “We demand that you vacate at your own free will without being pushed like animals or aliens.”
The timing could not be more appropriate to the new issue of the South African periodical Chimurenga that, coincidentally, will be released today.
Chimurenga says the new issue is designed to be a “time machine” in the form of a once-off newspaper entitled The Chimurenga Chronicle—or The Chronic—backdated to the week of May 18-24, 2008 during which several waves of xenophobic violence and protests spread across the country. They chose the release date to commemorate the “Black Wednesday” of 1977, when numerous Black Consciousness organizations and two independent newspapers were banned by the now-defunct apartheid regime.
For the past month, The Chronic‘s promotion has made use of posters, the same tactic as the xenophobic campaign in Alexandra this week. Only, instead of threats, The Chronic‘s posters are aimed at questioning South Africa’s culture of censorship, nationalism, and international ties. The signs are also related to the content of the paper, which like a Sunday Edition that it emulates, consists of news, editorials, a sports section, book reviews, photo essays, fictional advertisements, and a musical supplement, among other features.
According to Chimurenga, the paper is designed to “fill the gap in the historical coverage of [the violence], whilst at the same time reopening it. The objective is not to revisit the past to bring about closure, but rather to provoke and challenge our perceptions.”
Besides its content, The Chronic also takes a stand against the newspaper “as a tool of nationalism” by involving publishers from Kenya and Nigeria, contributors from all over Africa, and partners from Sweden and New York.
Read The Chronic blog. (with additional pieces and excerpts from the print edition)
See copies of The Chronic coming off of the press.