Siyabonga Njica

Siyabonga Njica

  • Scholar
  • South Africa
  • 2018 PhD History
  • Darwin College

I grew up in Gugulethu township, a black residential area that was established to accommodate migrant workers and families that were forcefully relocated from Cape Town’s inner city under the Group Areas Act (1950) during apartheid in South Africa. Growing up, I have always been interested in ideas about movement, black subjectivity and how the oppressed have historically reflected on the meaning of freedom – from the blues in black America to the work-songs of unskilled labourers in South Africa. I have also been interested in the ways in which arts and culture became a premium nation-building tool that galvanized the international community around the vices of institutionalised racial segregation and the violation of human rights under apartheid. At the University of Cape Town, I was awarded the Mellon Fellowship and became a visiting scholar at Emory University where I conducted research on the role of literature and jazz music in South Africa’s liberation struggle. For my graduate studies at Cambridge, I am interested in reimagining how we think about South Africa’s recent past by gesturing towards alternative archives and historical frameworks in order to reveal how exiled South African artists became key cultural players at the height of intellectual diasporic engagements between African, Caribbean and North American writers in the second half of the twentieth century. Consistent with the values of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, my research aims to promote the teaching, learning and understanding of African people’s creative and intellectual contribution in their fight for freedom and social equality.

Previous Education

University of Cape Town
University of Cambridge