Sunday, 21 December 2014

Nomboniso Gasa Remembers Jeff Guy

In a country and a world, where rigorous and principled academics are in short supply, the passing of Jeff Guy is a major blow. Despite the often repeated description of Jeff Guy as cantankerous, I never experienced or witnessed this side of him. I had limited interactions with Jeff. The man I met and often broke bread and chewed a curd with, was generous, tender, sensitive, astute, punctilious, open minded and incredibly funny.

Jeff Guy was a historian. He was also a Marxist. He was not dogmatic. His Marxism did not interfere with his academic precision (despite what his detractors said). This ability to be ideologically positioned and still maintain academic rigour fascinated me greatly.

Those of us, who contest "neo-traditionalism" and "essentialist" approaches to African Histories, cultures and identities, have lost an important ally, especially in these challenging times in South Africa.

Much is and has been said about Jeff Guy. Much too, is left unsaid. Long after the tributes have been written, I hope those who knew Jeff well, will tell us more about this complex, fascinating, humorous man. I look forward to learning more about Jeff.

(Facebook post, 20/12/2014)