English in Africa - Volume 36, Issue 1, 2009
Volumes & issues
Volume 36, Issue 1, 2009
Author Mike MaraisSource: English in Africa 36 (2009)More Less
This issue of English in Africa is dedicated to the memories of Don Maclennan, Es'kia Mphahlele and Daphne Rooke.
For the most part, the issue is devoted to an examination of the creative and theoretical writings of Njabulo S. Ndebele. I must thank Sam Tlhalo Raditlhalo for editing the articles in question, and for helping us with the obituary for Es'kia Mphahlele. Ntongela Masilela's essay, which opens and contextualises the discussion of Njabulo Ndebele's contribution to South African culture, is included as a position paper.
Author Jane StarfieldSource: English in Africa 36, pp 7 –11 (2009)More Less
English in Africa marks with sadness the passing of Professor Es'kia Mphahlele, Ke ngwana wa Mphahlele wa Dilea ta Mashobane. Ke Mokgaga oa Mmakubela wa nthi dikgolo ... Ke motho oa boPhatudi sepharara sa mangana (from his Sepedi clan praise namepoem) in October 2008, after an illustrious literary and academic career. He was born in 1919, the same year as two other southern African writers-in-exile : Peter Abrahams (whom he was destined to befriend at St. Peter's College) and Doris Lessing.
Author Ntongela MasilelaSource: English in Africa 36, pp 17 –39 (2009)More Less
An essay that defined a particular moment in South African intellectual history in the twentieth century was Nadine Gordimer's "Living in the Interregnum." In it, she articulated the historical crisis that engulfed the country after 1960 with the defeat of the democratic forces following the banning of the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan Africanist Congress by the apartheid State. The South African Communist Party had been banned in 1950. Borrowing the historical construct of the "interregnum" - as understood by Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci - Gordimer viewed the power struggle in South Africa as one between an oppressive and unjust old order outstaying its historical moment and the new order of liberty and democracy, still uncertain about its scheduled hour of arrival. The interregnum, a force field of political and cultural contestations, lasted for three decades until 1994 when democratic elections brought a new order into being. The year 1960 signified not only the defeat of the aforementioned political movements but was also the termination of the cultural and intellectual phenomenon that some have called the 'New African Movement.' From Oxford- and Columbia-trained lawyer, Pixley ka Isaka Seme's early vision of such a New African Movement in 1904 to the formation of the South African Natives National Congress (later ANC) in 1912 under his aegis, it may be argued that these two historical movements were mutually inseparable, in that the former was the cultural expression of the latter and the latter was the driving political force of the former.
Author Rob GaylardSource: English in Africa 36, pp 41 –54 (2009)More Less
Many South Africans with an interest in reading or teaching South African literature will recall the impact of Ndebele's seminal essay, "Turkish Tales and Some Thoughts on South African Fiction," published in Staffrider in 1984. To understand this impact, one needs briefly to sketch the political and cultural context of his intervention. The same number of Staffrider included an article by Lawrence Mshengu ("Forward with the Workers' Struggle") and an interview with Mbulelo Mzamane (reprinted from the April 1983 issue of the Nigerian journal, Okella). Mshengu was a shop steward at OK Bazaars, and his article is a narrative of his growing commitment to and involvement in the workers' struggle. It concludes with a series of familiar slogans and calls to action. The message is clear : if workers open their eyes and stand together, they can prevail against the apparently more powerful bosses. Mzamane, on the other hand, describes his more privileged secondary school education in Swaziland. Here he was able to access and read the works of the Drum generation of writers (banned inside South Africa at the time). He nevertheless subscribes unconditionally to the standard metanarrative of a people's struggle for liberation. He refers to "the unfolding history of my people's inexorable march towards freedom" (39). His people's culture is a "culture of resistance" ; as a result, "protest ... is almost synonymous with Black South African literature ... We talk as if every time a black South African writer picks up a pen, he is protesting" (30).
Author Antjie KrogSource: English in Africa 36, pp 55 –60 (2009)More Less
When I read The Cry of Winnie Mandela for the first time, it was in manuscript form, without the dedication and front cover that link the story to Sarah Baartman. The first thing I noticed was that the title was without the 'Madikizela,' the maiden name that women often insert to signify a personal identity and life other than that of the 'wife or spouse of.' Since her divorce Winnie had used Madikizela-Mandela. By ignoring that, the writer was saying that this story was about the absence of that hyphenated space ; about having had to live a life, to forge a life, within that famous, yet confined, name.
"The difficult task of normalizing freedom" : spectacular masculinities, Ndebele's literary / cultural commentary and post-apartheid lifeAuthor Pumla Dineo GqolaSource: English in Africa 36, pp 61 –76 (2009)More Less
Njabulo Ndebele wrote the above sentences as part of his analysis of "protest art," which celebrates the visibly spectacular at the expense of the reflective and nuanced. In much South African literature, Ndebele argued, the spectacular is the terrain of struggle between the dominant and the weak. However, as this paper will show, Ndebele's critique of literary predictability is theoretically applicable to spaces beyond the literary impulse that was his primary concern in the body of work cited. Ndebele's theorisation of the spectacular remains a powerful commentary on contemporary South African culture and gendered public life, and specifically the ways in which violent masculinities have taken centre stage since the Jacob Zuma rape trial. The subtitle of his first essay collection, Essays on South African Literature and Culture, hints at Ndebele's status as a pioneering figure of South African cultural studies. Consequently, it makes sense that his commentary should offer critical vocabularies applicable beyond 'protest art / literature.'
Memory, masculinity and responsibility : searching for 'good men' in Mtutuzeli Nyoka's I Speak to the SilentAuthor Helene StraussSource: English in Africa 36, pp 77 –89 (2009)More Less
Recent events in South Africa have compelled, arguably for the first time since 1994, a serious public questioning of some of the regulatory fictions that are shaping South African engagements with democracy, particularly as these relate to myths about gender equity. These events concern specifically the public spectacle that unfolded after a rape charge was filed against ANC president Jacob Zuma on 6 Dec. 2005 by a 31-year old woman who came to be known to the public only as Khwezi. The trial gave rise to a wave of violent misogyny the repercussions of which social commentators are still trying to process. In her text on the trial, feminist activist Mmatshilo Motsei captures its impact as follows : "For me personally," she writes, "Jacob Zuma's rape trial was both a form of victimization and a moment of reawakening. [...] I know from talking to other people that the South African political landscape will never be the same again".
Author Damazio MfuneSource: English in Africa 36, pp 91 –97 (2009)More Less
Within literary circles the name J.M. Coetzee needs no introduction. This is so because of his considerable intellectual and literary stature. Since the publication of Dusklands in 1974, this writer's oeuvre has grown substantially both in terms of quantity and in the issues that the individual works raise. Alongside it, has developed a 'critical industry' that includes postgraduate students (the present writer being one of them), long established academics, and the many interested persons who comment on Coetzee's writing in their personal capacities. But, what accounts for this interest in Coetzee?