English in Africa - Volume 34, Issue 2, 2007
Volumes & issues
Volume 34, Issue 2, 2007
Author Cheryl StobieSource: English in Africa 34, pp 5 –18 (2007)More Less
Ashraf Jamal's Love Themes for the Wilderness (1996) is a prime exemplar of celebratory queer novels in post-apartheid South Africa. This picaresque novel is also a state-of-the-nation novel, although it avoids laboured commentary on issues of race and gender, focusing instead on art and sexuality as gauges of the body politic. The novel is threaded through with references to a historic art and queer party, the Locker Room Project, which subverts national idolatry of the male-dominated arena of sport, alters a complacent Cape Town, and ripples out into South Africa and the entire Southern Africa region, countering the public homophobia of public figures such as Robert Mugabe. Using theoretical lenses of Queer Nation, camp and the carnivalesque, I offer a critique of the representation of sexuality and power in Love Themes for the Wilderness.
Author Ian GlennSource: English in Africa 34, pp 19 –33 (2007)More Less
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, writers and painters portrayed black South Africans in more positive, complex and less racist ways than later writers did, or than critics have acknowledged. In particular, anyone reading fairly widely in literary or travel accounts of Southern Africa during this period must be struck by a persistent set of images comparing black South Africans to classical figures. In this paper, I explore the significance of this allusive habit, arguing that, although some classical names for slaves and blacks might have been used in a derogatory or belittling way, most writers used these images in a spirit of humane celebration of difference and oneness and in tribute to physical attractiveness and beauty.
Author J.A. InggsSource: English in Africa 34, pp 35 –49 (2007)More Less
South African young adult fiction has not generally been the focus of academic study. The market for books by local writers is small in comparison with works emanating from the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. Indeed, the local market is largely driven by educational needs, as sales often depend on whether or not a work is prescribed for schools. As a result, South African English language youth fiction largely focuses on issues in society that can spark discussion and debate among learners. Although this may initially sound unappealing, such literature inevitably provides a fascinating reflection of changes taking place in society, as writers explore new themes and innovative techniques. As might be expected, since the 1990s South African young adult fiction has increasingly mirrored the multicultural and multilingual reality of the contemporary adolescent. Novels have appeared by both black and white writers depicting a variety of characters from different social and ethnic backgrounds, who, although facing broadly similar issues and problems, inhabit very different spaces. Although the adolescents constructed in this fiction face largely similar issues and problems, they seem to inhabit seemingly different spaces. There are, however, two unifying factors : the narrative is set in a multicultural, southern African landscape, and the protagonists are all involved in a struggle for power - with themselves, their parents, their peers, or institutions such as the school.
Author Zoe MolverSource: English in Africa 34, pp 51 –66 (2007)More Less
Born in 1925, Harold 'Jock' Strachan is one of the most remarkable, albeit little known, figures, in recent South African history. Founder member of the Liberal Party, member of the Congress of Democrats, Umkhonto we Sizwe's first explosive's expert, artist and Comrades Marathon gold medallist, Strachan is best remembered for two typically courageous actions. During the 1960 Emergency, shortly after the shootings at Sharpeville, Strachan and his wife, Maggie von Lier, took a stand outside the Durban prison in front of 500 black protestors who had streamed out of Cato Manor demanding the release of their leaders, thereby effectively preventing the police from opening fire on the crowd.
Author Khaya GqibitoleSource: English in Africa 34, pp 67 –77 (2007)More Less
During the apartheid era, the media in South Africa were prevented from exercising freedom of speech and this forced its practitioners either to find covert ways of expressing themselves or, in some cases at least, simply to toe the line. Such was the case at the Xhosa language radio station, where radio dramas, for example, could not openly be critical of the regime. This paper examines Mandla Myeko's 1981 play, Apho Sikhala Khona Isakhwatsha (Where the Go-Away Bird Calls), and argues that, despite harsh media legislation (most notably Publications Act Number 42 of 1974) during the period in question, some radio practitioners, such as Myeko, engaged with the apartheid regime, although they had to camouflage messages that could be deemed subversive. In spite of the state's heavy-handed censorship of radio texts, then, some of these anti-apartheid messages reached audiences. In this regard, I concur with Liz Gunner's contention that "[t]he censorship of overtly political themes has not meant that what was being produced did not engage with the harsh consequences of apartheid, or with the desire of listeners both to find a medium which would express their suffering and their search for a better life" (2002, 231).
Author Dan WylieSource: English in Africa 34, pp 79 –92 (2007)More Less
I want to suggest that Harold Farmer's poetry works repeatedly in this area of ambiguity, a zone of tension triangulated, as it were, between three impulses. First : a notion (or even the fact) that a sense of community depends on 'knowing' what the 'other' is thinking or feeling, and on being able to articulate that knowledge. Second : suspecting, or even knowing, that certain reaches of the mind of the 'other' are fundamentally, and fascinatingly, unknowable - of the realm of the unconscious. And third : knowing (or just fearing or hoping) that any secure distinction between ourselves-as-humans and ourselves-as-sharing-animal-traits is artificial, or at least permeable. Hence, while Farmer's wild animals are perpetually on the brink of disappearing from sight and understanding, it is precisely that mysteriousness which attracts us, can sometimes envelop us, and even speak to us. In having spoken and been spoken to, we are somehow ennobled.
Source: English in Africa 34, pp 93 –109 (2007)More Less
Readers of biographies of Olive Schreiner - except for the pioneering work of Vera Buchanan-Gould (see 1948, 198-99) - could be forgiven for doubting whether Olive Schreiner ever was in Rhodesia. Although her husband's edition of her Letters includes three which cover this journey (Cronwright-Schreiner 1924a), he makes no mention of it in his Life (1924), and it is not touched on either in First and Scott (1980) or in Stanley's impressive biographical chapter (2002). Arguably, it does nothing to alter the by now well-established outlines of Olive Schreiner's life; yet, as we shall see, the visit itself might have meant the premature end of that life. Moreover, it documents Schreiner's visit to two sites of immense importance to her : the 'Hanging Tree' in Bulawayo which features in the (deliberately shocking) photographic frontispiece to the first edition of Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland (1897), and, secondly, Cecil Rhodes's grave in the Matopos. In just over a decade (13 Aug. 1921), she too would lie in her chosen mountaintop tomb.
Author Nick MeihuizenSource: English in Africa 34, pp 133 –140 (2007)More Less
MS. Bodley 764 from the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, is a wondrous beast of a bestiary, containing information on 134 animals, along with some fine illuminations of the same. The animals range from lions, antelope, elephants and bears, through to satyrs, sirens, manticores and unicorns, and smaller creatures - hoopoes, bats, ducks, and even a worm. The information is based, not on scientific observation of course (the MS. dates from the thirteenth century), but on a centuries old textual tradition that drew on ancient sources and travellers' tales, painstakingly copied by scribes whose chief concern was being true to the auctores of the past, not to nature.
D. H. Lawrence Around the World : South African Perspectives, (Eds.) Jim Phelps and Nigel Bell : book reviewAuthor Malvern Van Wyk SmithSource: English in Africa 34, pp 141 –145 (2007)More Less
The book as a whole provides a scholarly overview of the central position held by the works and ideas of the English writer D. H. Lawrence in the curricula, teaching philosophies and world views of South African university English Departments in the early latter half of the twentieth century. If this suggests something of a resurrectionary enterprise - the informing spirit of the collection, Christina van Heyningen, died some decades ago - it is also true that the names of contributors read like a roll call of those South African and immigrant British academics who from the 1950s to the 1970s made some of our English Departments notable leaders in their field. Essays, old and new, have been carefully chosen and juxtaposed to reveal how and why the teaching of internationally significant literature (in this case the writings of D. H. Lawrence) was in those years deemed to form an essential part of the training of a maturing critical faculty with which to confront not just English literature and cognate academic subjects, but the complex world of adult human experience itself.