n Imbizo : International Journal of African Literary and Comparative Studies - Mediating Southern African identities in a transmuting age : an elusive pursuit

Volume 6 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2078-9785



This article tries to unpack the complexities of reconciling an African, and particularly a Southern African identity in a globalising age. It departs by drawing parallels between one of Africa's first generation of literary giants, Chinua Achebe and one of post-independent Africa's most radical critics, Phaswane Mpe. The two, separated by at least 40 years, reveal how mediating African identity has transmuted over the years from the linear Achebean colonial era pursuit of an almost clearly defined and nearly homogenous sense of Africanness, to a more elusive and monolithic task in the post-independence Mpe-era. In this Mpe-era it is no longer possible to speak of identity, but identities, as 'identity' proves fluid, overlapping and evasive. In a departure from the seemingly stable Achebean quest for the restoration of African identity and masculinity, Mpe challenges the reader to the more complex reality of what may be termed 'a multi-identities individual'.

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