Mike van Graan

Mike van Graan is the president of the African Cultural Policy Network and an associate professor of drama at the University of Cape Town. Professionally, he works as a consultant in the arts and culture arena, while also serving on UNESCO’s technical facility for the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Creatively, he works as a playwright and has written 30 plays to date, most of which interrogate the post-apartheid condition. In recognition of his work, he is the 2018 recipient of the Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture Award, a prize previously awarded to Antjie Krog and John Kani.

Where Ubuntu has gone to die

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2019-09-13

"Unfortunately for the country’s tourism marketers, our propaganda and arrogant notion of exceptionalism are being exposed for what they are: myths that we have created in order to live in a state of denial about our actual reality."

Europe, culture and soft power

Mike van Graan Meningen 2019-07-08

"While the Universal Declaration for Human Rights states that 'all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights', most people in the Global South know that they do not enjoy the same rights and that they will not be treated with the same dignity as their European counterparts. Europe promotes individual human rights, but all Africans are treated as a group, as if they are the same, with no distinction made based on education, gender, skills, social status, etc."

Human rights and cultural relativism in Africa

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2019-06-10

"The recent passing of anti-abortion laws in Alabama in the USA was done with evangelistic religious fervour, with Governor Kay Ivey stating that the passing of the law was a 'powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God'. Are human rights absolute, or are they relative to cultural – including religious – beliefs and practices?"

A new dawn for arts and culture?

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2019-05-13

"As has been the case for every one of the past elections, there is hope within the arts and culture sector for a minister to be appointed who will understand and act in the best interests of the sector. This time, though, some cultural activists have gone further, calling on the president to appoint a minister of arts and culture from within civil society, rather than a politician."

These "democrats" are not the friends of democracy

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2019-04-15

"How dare they ask for, how dare we give them, 'another chance'?"

What is the relevance of "culture" in South Africa with its emphasis on "development"?

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2019-03-18

"Rather than the neo-colonial view that advocated the wholesale abandonment of traditional cultural values and the embracing of cultural values and beliefs of the global north in order for development to be effective, progressives argued for an understanding and practice of the 'cultural dimension of development' in which development strategies need to be understood, planned, designed and executed in the context of the cultures of the intended beneficiaries of development."

"State capture" and the Market Theatre

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2019-03-05

"The Market Theatre became one of the most important South African cultural icons during the apartheid era. Launched in 1976, in the same year as the 'Soweto uprisings', the Market Theatre produced plays that travelled the globe, giving a human face to the impact of apartheid on the lives of most South Africans."

A season of heresy

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2019-01-21

"One thing is for sure: we would do well to be as suspicious of 'people of faith' as we should be of politicians."

Beyond the Wasteland

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2018-11-12

"It is nearly 25 years since the dawn of a non-racial democracy in South Africa, with formal apartheid having been overcome, and yet I have a similar feeling now about the utter waste of much of the past two decades, and about how different our country could, and should be today, if only we had not squandered so much, or had not allowed so much to be squandered!"

Seeing local through a foreign lens

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2018-10-15

"To walk the streets of Berlin late at night or ride the underground metro in the early morning unafraid, to see houses without burglar bars, let alone alarm systems, is to be made aware of the abnormality of South African society where the basic and most fundamental human right – to live – cannot be taken for granted."

Marikana and the false “New Dawn”

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2018-08-17

"Such commemorative days are supposed to remind us of the past atrocities in contravention of human rights, so that we do not repeat them in the future. And yet, the Marikana massacre stands as monument to how little we have learned from history, with the only difference now being that the atrocities are being committed by black politicians and by black policemen."

Madiba at 100, South Africa at 24

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2018-07-16

"Empty vessel revolutionaries grown fat on
Revolutionary speak
Unexercised by revolutionary acts
Already vulture his legacy"

Everyone is born equal, except when it comes to mobility

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2018-06-01

"Mobility of people reflects the fundamental and structural inequities in the world, inherited from a colonial past, exacerbated by globalisation and sharpened by the migration concerns and security interests of particularly Global North, 'liberal democratic' countries."

For whom the rainbow works

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2018-05-04

"Herein lies the paradox and the contradiction that is South Africa. On the one hand, a railway service that can compete with the best in the world serves the nation’s elite in the richest province, showing off the potential of the country, while on the other hand, an erratic, unsafe and poorly maintained railway service frustrates those on the underside of contemporary South African history, as they struggle to get to work and earn their meagre salaries."

The death of Winnie Mandela: A reflection

Mike van Graan Nuusvinke 2018-04-06

"We allow ourselves to be influenced and to have our attitudes shaped by those who have the power and reach to do so, to see the world, and actors within that world, according to the value systems and ideas with which those in power are most comfortable."