n English in Africa - revisited

Volume 36, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



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).

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