David Cecil Oxford Matiwane and auto/biographic memory: political activism, social pragmatism and individual achievement in twentieth century South Africa
Ndhlovu, Bongani Cyprian
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The main theoretical and empirical interest of this study is the critical examination of the life of David Cecil Oxford (D.C.O.) Matiwane. In it, I critically examine the politics of representing Matiwane’s life and the methods employed in such a discourse. I do this by focusing on the question of representation of political, social and economic struggles launched by D.C.O. Matiwane against segregation and apartheid in South Africa in the twentieth century. This study then questions the notion of creating a biographical supernarrative of his achievements. It confronts the binary approach in the representation of his life and argues that Matiwane’s life is an embodiment of various, even contradictory, philosophies. This study puts forward an argument that Matiwane's representation should be contextualised in relation to the struggles of his contemporaries, and that his narrative should not be seen as a product of a single political route. It unpacks various communal, individual, economic and political strategies employed by organisations and persons against apartheid and colonialism. It looks at how these strategies were implemented to overcome apartheid, and analyses how Matiwane's contribution is documented, especially in relation to contributions made by others. This research project also analyses how different layers and patterns in Matiwane's narrative have been created in an attempt to present his auto/biography as a cohesive discourse in spite of fragmented archival and oral memory. It argues that his memory has been appropriated to pursue different political and personal ends. This study further asks the following question: to what extent and why have different political systems given Matiwane’s voice a platform or silenced his point of view? Are there trends in his representation compared to narratives of his contemporaries? What are the underlying reasons behind such trends, if any? Are there continuities or discontinuities in his representation? What were the ambiguities embedded in their struggles? This study evaluates factors that led to him being declared a persona non grata. It closely examines why and how Matiwane has been represented as a source of controversy, as a lone political activist and as a pragmatist.