oa Alternation - She's There': Strategies of Presencing in Down Second Avenue and in 'Mrs Plum'

Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



Mphahlele (1989:59) explains the cryptic expression 'She's there' in the following way: when Africans say a person 'is there', they mean you cannot but feel she is alive; she allows you no room to forget she was born and is alive in flesh and spirit. The demonstrative 'there' points to a place other than that in which the speaker is. In this expression a woman is located in or on that place. The manner/nature of her location is characterised by her agency and visibility apparent in her refusal to be put aside or effaced. From the vivid memories of childhood in Down Second Avenue and in the naive narrative voice of Karabo in 'Mrs Plum' Mphahlele registers the state of the woman's presence as a historical being that lives out or actualizes her life within a given historical and political context. 'She's there' is a response that consciously refuses the multiple marginalisations/ effacements that systematic practices of the patriarchal and apartheid systems seek to perpetuate.

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