n African Renaissance - AIDS narratives in African fiction

Volume 1, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


In Phaswane Mpe's (2001) novel Welcome To Our Hillbrow, the narrator is talking to the main character Refentse who has written a short story : "Euphemism. Xenophobia. Prejudice. AIDS. You wrote your story to think through all these issues, child of Tiragalong and Hillbrow." (p. 60) Refentse, like dozens of novelists in Africa, like Mpe himself, needed to "think through all these issues", and found fiction one of thee best ways to do this. These are complex matters. AIDS is only one of many problems that trouble Africans; other novelists have added poverty, unemployment, sexism, culture, war, hypocrisy, and so many other "issues" to the narrator's list. And the complexity does not just come from the "issues" themselves : many Africans are children of both Tiragalong (the village) and Hillbrow (the city). Could the medical sciences ever be big enough to explore all of this? Isn't this complex situation precisely where we need to hear what comes from the imagination of African artists?

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