The impetus for this course came from within the ranks of the Right2Know Campaign. During the year 2014, the Right2Know Gauteng organiser, Bongani Xezwi, and others raised the need for political education that can give both staff and activists within the Right2Know Campaign a basic and solid foundation to better understand and analyse both historic and contemporary political, economic and social realities in South Africa. They pointed out that even though Right2Know staff and core community activists have acquired much knowledge about key issues, policies and struggles directly linked to Right2Know’s programmatic areas, a parallel knowledge of and ability to analyse, post-1994 South Africa’s larger political, economic and social development has been largely missing. Right2Know then resolved to develop this reading course, in order to fill this ‘knowledge gap’.

As such, the main purpose of this course is not only to expand knowledge horizons and to lay the basis for participants to sharpen their intellectual and analytical skills, but to directly link this to advancing the Right2Know Campaign and more general activist work and struggle for radical political, economic and social change. Readings are designed to provide ideologically diverse, practically informed and activist-intellectual ‘vehicles’ in the search for meaningful, grounded explanations, understandings, analysis and action. Crucial issues about the state, forms of political power, social relations and mass resistance and struggle for change will be surfaced.


Course structure

This is a distance learning reading course, and as such it does not include lectures or class-room sessions. In order to complete this course you need to read a variety of different reading materials, which have been authored by different writers.

This course is predominantly a reading course, as it requires a great deal of reading. All of the readings included in this course have been selected to facilitate a broader overall understanding of various issues about power, the state and social struggles in South Africa from the late 1980s to the present time. But this course will require a significant amount of dedication and discipline to complete: the required reading will take a long time, so you need to read consistently over the duration of the course. Do not try to do all of the required reading shortly before submitting the assignments – this will not give you enough time to properly engage with the reading material.

You should not worry if you do not understand everything that is discussed in each of the selected readings the first time that you read it! Learning to engage with political debates, and analysing the broader social and political landscape and power relations of the country, takes time, a lot of practice, and is a skill which can only be learned over time with intellectual perseverance. This course is designed as a ‘starting point’, to introduce you to some of the key issues mentioned above in an introductionary way. Once you have completed this reading course you should be equipped to continue your learning on your own, by doing further reading of other materials which you select for yourself. Learning starts, but it should never stop!