Sidney Luckett published a photo essay on Impact Quarterly about Natural Resilience: In the first week of March 2015 a firestorm swept through the mountains of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. The fire caused massive destruction of mountain vegetation, forests, plantations and some homes. It left behind miles of charred, Continue Reading
I have spent almost my entire adult life as a social justice activist and an academic.
I was born in Bloemfontein and did and obtained a BSc Hons (Mathematics) degree at Stellenbosch (1968). While I was at Stellenbosch I was greatly influenced by the Dialectical Tradition of Andre Degenaar and Rick Turner (who was later assassinated by the South African security police) as well as the writings of Bertrand Russell, who not only answered many of my questions about mathematics but also about injustice and religious intolerance.
From there I went to Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship where I completed an MPhil (Economics) specialising in Development Economics. I had hoped to learn more about economic inequality and exploitation, but Oxford was not the place to teach me that. I returned to South Africa work to work in the squatter camps and rural slums as a priest in the Anglican Church.
This inevitably got me involved in the anti-Apartheid resistance movement. The most significant of these activities was the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF), of which I was an executive member until being imprisoned in solitary confinement in 1985. After my release from detention the UDF was banned and I was recruited into the ANC’s Mkhonto weSizwe.
Following the unbanning of the liberation organisations in 1990, I moved to the University of Natal to take up a lectureship in the School of Rural Community Development, and at the university eventually became the Research Director of the Centre for Environment, Agriculture and Development specializing in organizational systems for rural development. While there I obtained a PhD in ‘Critical Systems Thinking’.
From 2005 – 2011 I was adviser to the Western Cape government on environmental economics and institutional innovation. On the completion of that contract I spent a six-month sabbatical at Harvard Kennedy School.
On my return I became involved in various projects and organisations committed to deepening democratic processes, environmental justice and human rights issues. These included involvement in building a social justice NPO, research into national well-being measures, a learning process approach to small-scale agro-ecosystem farming, research into economic planning in African countries, involvement in a Kurdish human rights organisation and, my most recent passion, documentary photography that focuses on the dignity of people living in the margins of ‘development’.
Critical Systems Thinking, Natural/human systems interaction,
Measures of national well-being,
Facilitation of multi-stakeholder projects
“Africa rising? Rather Africans thriving!”
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