n English in Africa - Deplorations

Volume 33, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



"One of the more startling disjunctures between text and referent in recent South African writing occurs at the moment when Sister Bridget, 'sister by blood' (2003, 124) to J. M. Coetzee's eponymous protagonist in Elizabeth Costello and Administrator of the Hospital of the Blessed Mary on the Hill, Marianhill, dismisses Elizabeth's suggestion of a 'Greek' model for art and life in Africa. Pointing out that this is just what had occurred to the early colonialists - 'educated Europeans, men from England with public-school educations behind them' (2003, 140) - when they first came in contact with the Zulus, Sister Bridget declares, '"Well, the Zulus knew better." She waves a hand towards the window,' we are then told, 'towards the hospital buildings baking under the sun, towards the dirt road winding into the barren hills,' and continues: '"This is reality: the reality of Zululand, the reality of Africa. It is the reality now and the reality of the future as far as we can see it"' (2003, 141).

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