Critically diverse perspectives on Covid-19: Interviews with a varied range of South Africans


Sayan Dey (ed)
Alliance University, Bangalore
Shankhadeep Chattopadhyay (ed)
Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi


Pandemic; South Africa; Covid-19; Education, Media, Art, Raced relations


Unisa Press & the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS)

The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic not only generated medical and health crises but also reconfigured the already existing social, cultural, racial, communal, legal, political, sociological, psychological, geographical, and economic hierarchies across the globe.

Suddenly, the world saw how financially flourishing communities began overbuying grocery, medical and other household items and the economically deprived communities were left with little or no access; how certain religious and communal groups were selectively demonised and penalised for spreading the virus; how the people from socio-economically backward rural and urban spaces have been denied access to basic health, hygiene, and medical facilities; how the Euro-North American medical practitioners have been treating selective bodies as laboratories of vaccine experiment. The editors Sayan Dey and Shankadeep Chattopadhyay spoke to a diverse range of scholars and practitioners to make sense of the impact of the pandemic. The book offers a broad set of perspectives.

In the closing section on Teaching and Learning Covid-19, Paul Prinsloo engages with the various teaching and learning challenges that Covid-19 has generated in South Africa, especially with respect to Open Distance Learning. 

Print book: ISBN 978-1-77615-172-1
E-book: ISBN  978-1-77615-173-8

Author Biographies

Sayan Dey, Alliance University, Bangalore

Sayan Dey grew up in Kolkata, West Bengal and is currently working as an Assistant Professor, Department of Language and Literature, Faculty of Humanities, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Alliance University, India. He is also a Faculty Fellow at The Harriet Tubman Institute, York University, Canada and Critical Cultural Studies Faculty, at NYI Global Cultural, Cognitive and Linguistic Studies, New York. Some of his published books are: Myths, Histories and Decolonial Interventions: A Planetary Resistance (Routledge, 2022), and Green Academia: Towards Eco-friendly Education Systems (Routledge, 2022). His areas of research interests are postcolonial studies, decolonial studies, critical race studies, food humanities and critical diversity literacy. He can be reached at:

Shankhadeep Chattopadhyay, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi

Shankhadeep Chattopadhyay earned his BA in English from Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Narendrapur (Autonomous), his MA in English from Banaras Hindu University and is currently pursuing his PhD with Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. He has participated in several national and international academic conferences in both India and abroad. Shankhadeep is an active member of the Urban Music Studies Scholar’s Network, Germany and has presented his research article “Spatializing the Musicking of an Expressive Urban Imagination: A Trans-Cultural Evaluation of the Early Modern Rock Music of Bengal” at the second international conference entitled Groove the City 2020 – Constructing and Deconstructing Urban Spaces through Music organised by the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany. His interests include music and literature, urban geography, spatial and cultural studies, digital- humanities, decolonial studies, postmodernism and creative writing. He is currently researching on the Spatiality in countercultural song in performance, which deals with the poetics of rock music and the socio-historical shift in the construction of urban sounds and of urban imaginaries as well as the spatial contours and the trans-cultural significance of American popular music.

Dené Du Rand, University of South Africa

Dené Du Rand is a Clinical Psychologist and full-time lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Africa (UNISA), where she is also part of the clinical team who is responsible for the Masters in Clinical Psychology programme. In the Clinical programme, she teaches Community, Critical and Gender Psychologies, African Epistemologies and Ecosystemic Theory. Dené is the vice-chair of the Community and Social Psychology Division of the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA). Her research interests include indigenous collective trauma, historical trauma, indigenous knowledge and healing systems, decolonial theories, and community health and well-being.

Kenneth Kaplan, University of the Witwatersrand

Kenneth Kaplan has extensive experience in film and television production in Africa, Asia and North America, and has been a lead producer or executive producer on several narrative feature films that have screened at the world’s leading international film festivals.  During his three-decade career in the media industry, Ken has been an investigative news producer, has produced and directed documentaries, and has been a show creator and a show runner of TV series focusing on youth and health issues in sub-Saharan Africa, with the Bill & Melinda Gates and the Kaiser Family Foundations supporting these documentary programs which have been broadcast in 31 African countries.  As part of the mass democratic movement in South Africa, he actively organised media workers in unrepresented communities under Apartheid and shared his knowledge and skills with young filmmakers in Alexander Township in Johannesburg.  When all media in South Africa was heavily restricted under the prevailing regime’s State of Emergency, Ken worked as a field producer for international broadcasters covering events in South Africa prior to and following the release of Nelson Mandela from political detention leading to the first democratic elections in the country.   Ken's undergraduate studies included a specialisation in African archaeology, he has an MFA from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, and he has a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), where he undertook his doctoral research on the filmed representation of medical doctors in African conflict zones.  He currently teaches film production to undergraduate and graduate students in the Film and TV department at Wits, has served as department head, and writes frequently about the intersection of media, society and politics.

Sihlanganiso Khumalo, University of South Africa

Sihlanganiso Khumalo’s specialisation is in the field of Development Studies. He is currently a PhD Student in the College of Human Sciences of the University of South Africa. His PhD thesis is focused on Rural Development, in which thesis he is exploring rural development thinking and practice options that are misaligned with the modernisation canon. The motivation is to open up debates that can culminate in situated, pluriversal and nonaligned other ways of thinking and practising rural development which can lead to mutual and interrelated wellbeing of the people, the planet and their prosperity. He studied Development Studies at Honours and Master’s Degree level in the University of South Africa, and completed his Master of Science’s degree in Development Studies with a Distinction. He was awarded the UNISA Vice Chancellor’s Prize for the best Postgraduate Student in the Faculty from the National University of Science and Technology. The author believes in disruptive epistemologies which can add value to day-to-day struggles for survival by ordinary people of this world.

Siseko Khulmalo, Rhodes University

Siseko Kumalo received his formative training from Rhodes University where he read in Political and International Studies, Anthropology and Philosophy, and was awarded the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship in his Honours year (2017). He holds a Master of Arts (Cum Laude) in Political Philosophy from the University of Pretoria’s Department of Political Sciences and is reading for a PhD in the Department of Political Sciences at the same university. His PhD investigates how to model an inclusive national identity in South Africa using the work of William Wellington Gqoba and SEK Mqhayi. He is the recipient of the Harvard South African Fellowship which commences in September 2022 and he has been recognised as a Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South African, 2020 (in the category of Education).

Rozena Maart, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Rozena Maart was born in District Six, the former slave quarter of the Cape, South Africa. Her family along with thousands was forcibly removed in 1973 due to the Group Areas Act. Her work examines the intersections between and among Political Philosophy, Black Consciousness, Derridean deconstruction and psychoanalysis, all of which address questions of race, gender, coloniality and identity. Her fiction books have made the African Studies Association’s shortlist for the Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize in honour of Ama Ata Aidoo in 2010, the HOMEBRU list in South Africa in 2006 and the bestseller list in Canada in 2005.   Professor Maart has published several books, journal articles and book chapters, and recently edited Decoloniality and Decolonial Education: South Africa and the World.  Prof Maart woke up on the 1st of January 2021 to the news that she had won the 2021 Nicolás Cristóbal Guillén Batista Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to Literature and Philosophy, awarded by the internationally renowned Caribbean Philosophical Association [CPA]. She was the Director of the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Natal, South Africa, for five years before returning to her substantive post in the school of Social Science, where she teaches and supervises students in Gender Studies, Law, Fine Art, English, Philosophy and International Politics.

Tshepo Madlingozi, University of the Witwatersrand

Tshepo Madlingozi is an Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits University. He holds Masters’ degrees in both Law and Sociology, and he received his PhD degree from Birkbeck, University of London. He is a Research Associate at the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education at the Nelson Mandela University. He is co-editor of the South African Journal of Human Rights and part of the management team of Pretoria University Law Press. He is a co-editor of Symbol or Substance: Socio-economic Rights in South Africa (Cambridge UP) and a co-editor of Introduction to Law and Legal Skills in South Africa, 2nd Edition (Oxford UP South Africa). He is an advisory board member of the Journal of Human Rights Practice, and he sits on the boards of the following civil society organisations:; Centre for Human Rights, University of Free State; the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution; the Rural Democracy Trust; and the Mining-Affected Communities United in Action/Women-Affected by Mining Action. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA), and a member of the advisory board of Health Justice Initiative. For thirteen years (2015-2018) he worked with and for Khulumani Support Group, a 1,20,000-strong social movement of victims and survivors of Apartheid as National Advocacy Coordinator and later also became the Chairperson.

Bongani Mkhonza, University of South Africa

Bongani Mkhonza has been working as a Curator for the UNISA Art Gallery and Art Collection for more than twelve years. Previously, Mkhonza worked as an Educational Officer for the Durban Art Gallery, in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. His curatorial experience includes managing acquisitions, curating exhibitions and caring for the UNISA Art Collection. Bongani attends to a variety of professional duties such as operational planning, budgeting, management, coordinating, and administrative duties for the Gallery. He has curated art exhibitions nationally in South Africa and has travelled some of the exhibitions internationally to Austria, Serbia and other countries in Europe. He curates the Annual Recent Unisa Acquisitions Exhibitions and some of his recent major curatorial projects include: If Democracy Could Talk (2019), 50 Years of Unisa Art Collection (2011) and The Meeting Point (2012). He completed his Doctorate Degree (PhD.) in Art History and Philosophy in 2020 (UNISA). His research interests are on university art collections and art acquisition policies, decoloniality, and critical theories. His latest publication is entitled Relocating the Centre: Decolonising University Art Collections in South Africa. This has been published by ONCURATING journal: Decolonial Propositions (Issue 49 /April 2021: Notes on Curating). In his capacity as a Curator, he maintains and reports on a broad spectrum of advisory and acquisition committees. Bongani has also produced catalogues for the UNISA Art Collection and for other international exhibitions. In his professional career spanning over 23 years, Bongani has come to admire the contribution that university art collections continue to make in the curation and preservation of diverse cultures in South Africa.

Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, University of Bayreuth

Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni is Professor and Chair of Epistemologies of the Global South with Emphasis on Africa at the University of Bayreuth in Germany. He previously worked as Research Professor and Director of Scholarship in the Department of Leadership and Transformation (DLT) in the Principal and Vice-Chancellor’s Office at the University of South Africa (UNISA), South Africa. He was also the 2019 Visiting Professor at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). He is a leading decolonial theorist with over a hundred publications in the fields of African history, African politics, African development and decolonial theory. His latest major publications are Epistemic Freedom in Africa: Deprovincialization and Decolonization (Routledge, July 2018); Rethinking and Unthinking Development: Perspectives on Inequality and Poverty in South Africa and Zimbabwe (Berghahn Books, March 2019) coedited with Busani Mpofu; and Decolonization, Development and Knowledge in Africa: Turning Over A New Leaf (Routledge, May 2020).

Luthando Ngema, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Luthando Ngema is a Lecturer at the School of Arts, Media and Cultural Studies Department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her multidisciplinary interests include understanding urban cultures; the representation of gender and race issues in the media; political communication; and communication for development. Ngema teaches and supervises at post graduate level. She is currently in the process of completing her Doctoral studies and the topic of her research is: “Representing urban social space: Media constructions of Ethekwini central business district development.”

Paul Prinsloo, University of South Africa

Paul Prinsloo is a Research Professor in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in the College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa (Unisa). His academic background includes fields as diverse as Theology, Art History, Business Management, Online Learning, and Religious Studies. Paul is an established researcher and has published numerous articles in the fields of teaching and learning, student success in distance education contexts, learning analytics, and curriculum development. His current research focuses on the collection, analysis and use of student data in learning analytics, graduate supervision and digital identity. Paul was born curious and in trouble. Nothing has changed since then. He blogs at and his Twitter alias is @14prinsp

Norma Romm, University of South Africa

Norma RA Romm (DLitt et Phil) is a Professor in the Department of Adult, Community and Continuing Education at the University of South Africa. She is author of The Methodologies of Positivism and Marxism (1991), Accountability in Social Research (2001), New Racism (2010), Responsible Research Practice (2018), People’s Education in Theoretical Perspective (with V McKay 1992), Diversity Management (with R Flood 1996), and Assessment of the Impact of HIV and AIDS in the Informal Economy of Zambia (with V McKay 2006). She has co-edited six  books—Social Theory (with M Sarakinsky 1994), Critical Systems Thinking (with R Flood 1996), Balancing Individualism and Collectivism (with JJ McIntyre-Mills and Y Corcoran-Nantes 2017), Mixed Methods and Cross-Disciplinary Research (with JJ McIntyre-Mills, 2019), Democracy and Governance for Resourcing the Commons (with JJ McIntyre-Mills and Y Corcoran-Nantes, 2019) and Covid-19 Pandemic: Perspectives Across Africa (with A Fymat and J Kapalanga) She has published over 100 research articles on social theorising, transformative research towards social and ecological regeneration, indigenous paradigms of knowing, and the facilitation of adult learning. She has worked on a range of projects aimed at increasing equity for organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), and International Organisation for Migration (IOM).


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