South Africa

Image of South African guitarist Derek Gripper
Coutesy of Derek Gripper

South African musician Derek Gripper has been playing classical music since he was 6-years-old. But after years of studying in Cape Town, he felt uninspired by the classical guitar repertoire available to him, so he set off on a journey to discover musical inspiration from around the world. He traveled first to South India, and then explored Brazilian music before he happened upon the instrument that changed the direction of his career: the kora.

Courtesy of Zanele Muholi

In 2006, South Africa became the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. While social justice activists around the world saw this event as a tremendous victory, the country was still in a lot of turmoil. Homophobic hate crimes and violence were on the rise, and many individuals reported being subject to “curative rape,” a hate crime in which someone is raped to “cure” them of their sexual identity.

Stories From The Arab Spring

Nov 10, 2015
Reynolds on a tank in the Panshjir Valley, Afghanistan
Andy Reynolds

UNC political science professor Andy Reynolds is one of the world’s leading experts in governmental and electoral design. During his graduate school years in post-Apartheid South Africa, Reynolds advised writers of the constitution.

He continued to help other countries devise political structures over the last two decades. During the Arab Spring revolutions, Reynolds spent time in Egypt, Libya and Yemen working for the United Nations and the United States National Security Council.

Father Michael Lapsley with Desmond Tutu
Institute for Healing of Memories

Father Michael Lapsley is a South African liberation activist and priest who knows firsthand what it is like to experience trauma. In 1990, a mail bomb intended to assassinate him caused him to lose both of his hands, an ear, and an eye.

Update at 7:05 a.m. ET

A judge in South Africa handed down a verdict of culpable homicide against double-amputee Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius in the shooting death of his girlfriend. The conviction carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.

dancer
John Hogg

South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma grew up hearing the story of his ancestor, a 19th century Xhosa warrior. The man is remembered for his long fight to preserve cultural traditions and resist colonial rule. In the dance piece, "Exit/Exist," Maqoma explores the connections between his past and present while live musicians sing in the Xhosa language.

Lawyer and freedom fighter Albie Sachs is one of the lesser-known heroes of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement. He spent time incarcerated and years in exile before nearly dying from a car bomb.