English in Africa - Volume 35, Issue 2, 2008
Volumes & issues
Volume 35, Issue 2, 2008
Author Michael WesselsSource: English in Africa 35, pp 7 –35 (2008)More Less
Not surprisingly, considering that they comprise so rich a record of the language and orature of a culture that has all but disappeared, the materials that resulted from the combined efforts of Wilhelm Bleek, Lucy Lloyd, and /Xam informants such as //Kabbo, Dia!kwain and /A!kungta in the 1870's, have generated growing scholarly, artistic and popular interest. Among the body of academic work that has been produced in response to the collection is some that seeks to closely analyse the materials themselves as texts. The study of the figure of /Kaggen, the Mantis, has been central to the project of interpreting the /Xam narratives. Although critics differ about his role in /Xam narratives and /Xam culture, the characterisation of /Kaggen as the /Xam trickster is reproduced in all the writing on him. This article seeks to question this reading of /Kaggen. Instead of an approach that identifies /Kaggen as the local representative of a universal type, I will argue for an interpretation that locates /Kaggen within /Xam discourse itself.
Author Margaret LentaSource: English in Africa 35, pp 34 –51 (2008)More Less
Colonial societies are generally committed to the maintenance of inequalities between the colonizer and the colonized, and the discourse of the powerful within such societies will reflect this. Inequalities will be justified in language, where beliefs are expressed and applied. I am concerned here with an extreme example of this inequality, that between free citizens and slaves. The case I shall consider is that of the dominant 'white' group as they were represented by officials of the Court of Justice in the eighteenth century Cape of Good Hope when dealing with the large numbers of slaves who were brought before them on criminal charges.
Author Ashlee PolatinskySource: English in Africa 35, pp 53 –70 (2008)More Less
In the afterword to his autobiographical account of holocaust, Primo Levi distinguishes between two categories of person who survived the concentration camps. Those in the first category typically refuse to revisit the scene of their internment, and avoid discussing or remembering their experience, even though they cannot succeed in forgetting and tend to revisit what they suppress in nightmare and in somatic and psychic dis-ease. This group, Levi contends, comprises for the most part individuals who found themselves in camps not for political reasons but through general circumstance and misfortune, so that the memory of their imprisonment and torture is extraneous to their concept of life, cannot yield meaning, must be (although cannot be) excised. The second category, with whom Levi identifies himself, is made up of survivors who "have, instead, forgotten, have dismissed everything, and have begun again to live, starting from zero".
Author Maria OlaussenSource: English in Africa 35, pp 71 –88 (2008)More Less
Confessional narratives, both in fiction and in political discussions, deal with the past in very distinctive ways. A confession is retroactive, and the narrative is shaped by the wrongdoing, which is to be disclosed. It constructs an opposition between evil as a hidden secret and confession as openness and awareness of past wrong. Accordingly, the act of confession in itself signals a move away from 'evil' towards 'good.' This genre also defines the speaker in interesting ways. The protagonist of a confession is most often also its narrator. It is through the act of placing oneself within a retrospective narrative that the move from 'evil' to 'good' is made possible. The speaking subject thus grants himself or herself the power to return to his or her own history with the purpose of disclosing actions that he or she has previously kept hidden. In this way the genre also demands a considerable distance between protagonist and narrator. The distance is achieved through the act of disclosure itself, by speaking out and opening up the past and, in the process, by defining oneself as a perpetrator.
"Another kind of combat in the bush" : Get a Life and Gordimer's critique of ecology in a globalized worldAuthor Anthony VitalSource: English in Africa 35, pp 89 –118 (2008)More Less
How necessary it is to read environmental issues, national agendas, and international competitiveness in relation to each other is illustrated by a recent climate change conference held in Bali, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 3-14 Dec. 2007. Meant to supply only a guide to negotiating an international treaty in Copenhagen in 2009, the conference nonetheless involved intense "wrangling" accompanied by feelings, in some participants, of anger and disappointment (Jowit 2007). Its conclusion a day later than scheduled "despite several night-time sessions" suggests how difficult negotiations were among national representatives seeking to address global environmental concern without losing economic advantage for their home countries or opportunity for economic gain (Jowit 2007). The main blocs formed among 'developed' and 'developing' nations, to use the prevalent terminology, with a major split within the 'developed' bloc between the European Union and the United States.
"We are not made for revelation" : letters to Francis Bacon in the Postscript to J. M. Coetzee's Elizabeth CostelloAuthor Dirk KlopperSource: English in Africa 35, pp 119 –132 (2008)More Less
The postscript follows the signature of the letter or the text of the book. As an addition to a communication that has already taken place, it gestures to the inconclusiveness of the writing, its failure of closure. It is an afterthought that paradoxically draws attention to itself, simultaneously marking and transgressing the limits of language. While peripheral to the body of the already written text, it is rendered emphatic precisely through this very separation, where, from beyond the margins, it fills a gap, accentuates a point, provides a new angle, a fresh observation, opening up the text to further elaboration. In J. M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello, the paradox of the postscript is incorporated into the meaning of the work itself. Anterior to and excluded from the narrative, it speaks to the issues raised in the narrative from another place.
Author Hermann WittenbergSource: English in Africa 35, pp 133 –150 (2008)More Less
With the publication of In the Heart of the Country by the London publisher Secker & Warburg in 1977, J. M. Coetzee had achieved international recognition for his second novel, transcending the narrow national literary culture of South Africa. Although In the Heart of the Country, with its overtly South African subject matter and setting certainly strengthened his credentials as a significant new South African writer, a careful look at the publication history of this novel shows a degree of ambivalence in the way Coetzee's authorship emerged in the force-field of tension between the local and the global. On the one hand, In the Heart of the Country's British publication was a further step in Coetzee's transnational authorship, a process that I have argued took place already with the writing and local South African publication of Dusklands (1974) ; on the other hand, Coetzee was also addressing himself for the first (and possibly last) time in a very particular and focused manner to a local readership. This complex doubled form of authorship was reflected in the dual publication history of In the Heart of the Country, both as an international version for the metropolitan Anglophone market (with a parallel United States edition), and as an edition published by Ravan Press in the following year, licensed for distribution only in South Africa. The South African edition distinguished itself not only by a different imprint and jacket design, but was decidedly local, with much of the novel's extensive dialogue in Afrikaans.
Source: English in Africa 35, pp 151 –161 (2008)More Less
This article offers an analysis of two important films - Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers and Sembene Ousmane's Xala - within the context of postcolonial theories. While its focus will be, in the main, on the postcolonial as a historical framework, the essay attempts to transcend this framework through its engagement with the postcolonial as an awareness of identity, conflict and challenge on personal, communal and national levels. The issues broached range from colonialism, decolonisation, neocolonialism, and violence to Fanonism, mimicry and the neo-bourgeoisie. In the course of this analysis, recourse is made to the Third Cinema, as it "anticipates and touches borders with postcolonial theory" (Wayne 2001, 22), and its master concept of decolonisation. While the article inaugurates the debate with individual close examinations of The Battle of Algiers and Xala the discussion will be complemented by stringing the two films together on threads that bind them as two "great cinematic documents of the age of empire" (Said 2001, 291).
Rider Haggard on the Imperial Frontier, The Political and Literary Contexts of His African Romances, Gerald Monsman : book reviewAuthor Tania ZulliSource: English in Africa 35, pp 161 –171 (2008)More Less
Evaluating past literary texts under modern critical perspectives is an interesting as well as challenging task. This is particularly true for works of the colonial and imperial periods, which have been interpreted in a variety of ways according to contemporary critical theories. Several 'colonial' or 'imperial' narratives benefit from new ideological trends triggered by cultural studies, experiencing interpretations that are radically different from those traditionally attributed to them. On the other hand, as Paul Gilroy underlines, working on past heredities becomes a crucial moment in the understanding of present socio-political conditions, so that "developing durable and habitable multiculture depends upon working through the legacies of departed empire" (Gilroy 2006, 27).
Author Dan WylieSource: English in Africa 35, pp 163 –166 (2008)More Less
On the centenary of its first publication by the Morija Book Depot as Moeti oa bochabela, Mofolo's strange, muddled little parable, touted as the first novel ever written by a Mosotho, makes a welcome reappearance. Penguin Classics have reissued Harry Ashton's 1934 translation, with a couple of pages of illustrations and Mofolo's own autobiographical sketch, a letter to Mr Franz, as frontispieces.