ISBN 9789956554850
Pages 302
Dimensions 229x152 mm
Published 2024
Publisher Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon
Format Paperback


Fluid Realities –Exploring South Africa’s Water Crisis and Social Dynamics

by Minga Mbweck Kongo

The book opens up a new pathway for a contemporary ethnographic exploration of the politics of water in an unequal society, specifically focusing on the challenges faced in Khayelitsha, South Africa. South Africa is confronted with a quadruple threat of water scarcity, energy depletion, inflation, and unemployment, leaving politicians unsure of where to begin in minimizing the damage. Using incompleteness and conviviality as a framework, the book delves into the subjectivities created by the lack of water and its impact on various aspects of life, including medical, ecological, spiritual, and political dimensions. It also examines the inequalities in water access in Cape Town, highlighting the inequitable development patterns and the strategies deployed by residents to cope with inadequate water access. The book demonstrates the complex relationships and intricacies of water and how humans think about, relate to, and respond to water, particularly when it is lacking. Overall, it provides a comprehensive analysis of the complexities of water and its profound significance in different spheres of human life.

“The book we have in our hands is a fine work on the intricacies of contemporary life in South Africa (and beyond). Instead of the patronising and condescending viewpoint that usually enables social scientists (especially anthropologists) to address ‘the poor’, Kongo demonstrates the complexities of people’s reasoning and feeling.”

 Antonádia Borges, Professor of Anthropology, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), Brazil

 “Minga’s excellent ethnography offers a rare account of the convivial relationships that structure everyday living and mobility in a place of ‘liquid shit’ in the midst of a precarity provoked by the sociopolitical absence of water in a city filled with water for everything, yet insensible to incompleteness as life-craft.” 

Divine Fuh, Associate Professor, Director of the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA), University of Cape Town 

“Asinamanzi is a raw book about the impact that a lack of piped water has on people living in informal settlements in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. It describes a world of ‘liquid shit’ that assaults the senses and erodes the dignity and relationships of people living in it. Amidst this ‘incomplete’ existence, residents bravely struggle to establish a ‘convivial’ social life.”

 Ilana van Wyk, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Stellenbosch University

“Asinamanzi is about the daily realities of living with water scarcity and raw sewage running through streets and houses. The book examines the social, cultural, religious and health dimensions of water, and provides rich ethnographic insights into what it means to strive to live with dignity in settings characterized by the broken infrastructures of everyday life.” 

Steven Robins, Professor of Anthropology, Stellenbosch University

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About the Author

Minga Mbweck Kongo

Minga Mbweck Kongo (PhD) is an anthropologist, guest lecturer at Stellenbosch University at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) and affiliated with HUMA – Institute for Humanities in Africa at the University of Cape Town (UCT) with research interests in water sociality, mobility, urbanism, illness and climate change.