On 4 February 2020, Phemelo Motene, host of SAfm‘s show “Life Happens”, interviewed me on the writing the history of surfing in South Africa and some of the key social history themes I focus on.
We chatted about surfing’s past in South Africa since WW2 as well as the changing representations of surfing in South Africa today, including a focus on the role of black surfers and female surfers in shaping today’s wavescape. We discussed how surfing development programmes add value to the lives of black surfers, the emerging commercialisation of township surf culture, and surfing’s involvement in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. We also covered about my research method of participating in surf contests.
You can listen to the full interview here (listening time: 17min 48sec).
This interview was conducted a month before COVID-19 arrived on South Africa’s shores so there is no reference to the impact on COVID-19 on the South African surfing community – a topic I will post on in due course.
In August 2013, Meg Samuelson and I collaborated on an interdisciplinary project that considered the contemporary politics, shifting poetics and invoked pasts in the film Otelo Burning (2011), an isiZulu language film that uses surfing to pose questions about personal and political freedom during the demise of apartheid (1988-1990).
An outcome of the project was the publication of several essays and an interview with Sara Blecher (producer, director) and Sihle Xaba (actor, surfer) in the Contemporary Conversations section of the Journal of African Cultural Studies, Volume 26, Number 3, September 2014.
Contemporary Conversations: Otelo Burning
Meg Samuelson and Glen Thompson, “Introduction.” (Free Access to the article, which includes audio-visual supplementary material relating to the film and its reception).
Meg Samuelson, “Re-telling freedom in Otelo Burning: the beach, surf noir, and Bildung at the Lamontville pool.” (Free Access to the article).
Glen Thompson, “Otelo Burning and Zulu surfing histories.” (Open Access to the article).
Bhekizizwe Peterson, “Otelo Burning (dir. Sara Blecher, 2011).”
Litheko Modisane, “Otelo Burning: On the turbulence of freedom.”
David Johnson, “Beyond tragedy: Otelo Burning and the limits of post-apartheid nationalism.”
Meg Samuelson and Glen Thompson, “Interview with Sara Blecher and Sihle Xaba: the making and meanings of Otelo Burning.”