Memorability’s Books: Memory Against Forgetting by Ranjith Kally


March, 2018



A guide to love

Memory and forgetting.


Both important. Would you really want to remember everything? Would you want to have a perfect memory?


Remembering is important though, even for events that we choose to forget, or that sometimes get conveniently forgotten. Part of Memorability’s mission is to lead to better memory, and, more importantly to better brain health. Books help us to understand trauma, and the trauma of others, increasing empathy, for self, and other. Empathy, as selfless as it sounds, has many potential individual benefits, including increased creativity.


(And as I mentioned in my post on Memorability’s Book Club, books stimulate your brain, which keeps your brain healthy. Stimulating your brain can, potentially, improve your memory.)


The Book: Memory Against Forgetting, Ranjith Kally

This is a beautiful, sad, hopeful and informative photographic journal of South Africans, and the human capacity for cruelty and resilience.


Why will you love it?

It has beautiful, emotive images which act as a virtual time-machine. The images remind us about the atrocities we haven’t acknowledged, about the countless heroes who got us to where we are now, and also, remind us that we still have a long way to go.

About Ranjith Kally

Ranjith Kally was born in Durban, on November 26, 1925. He worked for The Post and for Drum magazine. He has exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and at the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, but received recognition in South Africa very late in his life. From Kalim Rajab, in Memory Against Forgetting, ‘A defining characteristic of Ranjith Kally is his lyricism- and his ability to capture the dignity of the downtrodden to who he was drawn.’


On the beauty of Memory Against Forgetting

I will not be able to do justice to these incredible photos, so I suggest that you get the book. Here are some of my favourites, with quotes from the book.

Rajwanthia Kally, 1947– A portrait of his mother cleaning Dhal. ‘It was a time-consuming process that involved washing, draining and sifting of loose stones.’

Kallicharan, 1947– A portrait of his father reading ancient Vedic texts. ‘This is the pose which I’ve come to remember him by.’

The Chief, 1960– A portrait of Chief Albert Luthuli, when it was announced that he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960. ‘The sad part of this photography for me is that I remember how close his shop was to the train line- right next to it, in fact- which is where he was killed in 1967.’

Makeshift Tearoom, 1959– Golfer Papwa Sewgolum, having tea inside his car, as he was not allowed into the clubhouses which had a Whites-only policy. ‘In 1963, Papwa won the Natal Open…but because he wasn’t allowed inside, he was handed a trophy in the pouring rain, while white folks sheltered indoors.’

Umkhumbane, 1962– ‘Eric Dludla and Greta Dladla in full swing captures the vibrancy of Cato Manor before the forced removals destroyed it all together.’

Reunion II, 1996– Ma Luthuli and Gadija Christopher Gool celebrate their 100th birthdays together. ‘Both said that the happiest day of their lives had been two years before, when they both had been allowed to vote for the first time.’

These descriptions are so far from the impact of the images, but I hope it gives you insight into this incredible portrait of South Africa.

What is different about this philosophy?

There must be an ability to understand suffering and joy, to appreciate the stories of where we come from. Memory against Forgetting starts in the 1940’s in the sugar plantations in Durban, the protests throughout, the suffering families, and moments of triumph and celebration. As Thich Nhat Hanh says in True Love, ‘Training is needed in order to love properly…Understanding is the essence of love.’

Is this what we need? Will these stories help us to understand better?

South Africans must recall the terrible past so that we can deal with it, forgiving where forgiveness is necessary but never forgetting. Nelson Mandela


Further reading suggestions for Human Rights Day


These are three incredible books (there are so many more), which are, simply, must-read books.


Robert Sobukwe: How Can Man Die Better- Benjamin Pogrund
‘Let me plead with you, lovers of my Africa, to carry with you into the world the vision of a new Africa, an Africa reborn, an Africa rejuvenated, an Africa re-created, young AFRICA. We are the first glimmers of a new dawn. And if we are persecuted for our views, we should remember, as the African saying goes, that it is darkest before dawn, and that the dying beast kicks most violently when it is giving up the ghost, so to speak’  Robert Sobukwe speech, Fort Hare, 1949


Winnie Mandela: A Life- Anne Mare du Preez Bezdrop
‘The years of imprisonment hardened me…. Perhaps if you have been given a moment to hold back and wait for the next blow, your emotions wouldn’t be blunted as they have been in my case. When it happens every day of your life, when that pain becomes a way of life, I no longer have the emotion of fear. There is no longer anything I can fear. There is nothing the government has not done to me. There isn’t any pain I haven’t known.’ Winnie Madikizela-Mandela


Between the World & Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
‘Malcolm was the first political pragmatist I knew, the first honest man I’d ever heard. He was unconcerned with making the people who believed they were white comfortable in their belief. If he was angry, he said so. If he hated, he hated because it was human for the enslaved to hate the enslaver, natural as Prometheus hating the birds. He would not turn the other cheek for you. He would not be a better man for you. He would not be your morality. Malcolm spoke like a man who was free, like a black man above the laws that proscribed our imagination.’ Ta- Nehisi Coates


Who has made an impact on the way you view injustice? Share your favourite quotes from them?


Join the discussion next month.


For April

The Book: Mindsight

Author: Dan Siegel

About: ‘Mindsight is a learnable skill. It is the basic skill that underlies what we mean when we speak of having emotional and social intelligence. When we develop the skill of mindsight, we actually change the physical structure of the brain.’  from


Who are your guides? Whose words from novels, or autobiographies, have helped during crises?


Be inspired,


Kirti Ranchod

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