Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Tydskrif vir Letterkunde]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=0041-476X20140002&lang=en vol. 51 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Shadows of the past, visions of the future in African literatures and cultures</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200001&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en <![CDATA[<b>Dystopian future visions in Afrikaans novels published after 1999: A relationship between past and future</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200002&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT Viljoen identifies an engagement with history and "dystopic views" as separate trends in recent Afrikaans literature. In investigating characteristics of recent Afrikaans dystopian futurist novels it becomes apparent that the past also plays an important role in the visions of the future that is created. The past is an important premise in dystopian literature in general. It can be linked to the protagonist's search for identity and meaning in the dystopian space. This article explores the relationship between the past and future in Afrikaans dystopian futurist novels published after 1 999. Specific reference is made to the following dystopian novels by established Afrikaans writers: Oemkontoe von die nasie(2001) by P. J. Haasbroek, Raka die roman (2005) by Koos Kombuis and Horrelpoot(2006) by Eben Venter. The self-published dystopian novels Die Nege kerse van Magriet (2006) by Barend P. J. Erasmus and Beslissing in die Karoo (2011) by Sebastiaan Biehl, which lie outside the mainstream of Afrikaans literature, are also discussed. These novels by Erasmus and Biehl are written from an extreme right-wing perspective and differ from the more mainstream novels in their portrayal of a future South Africa. In this paper I explore the role of references to South African history in the construction of the future in the Afrikaans dystopian novels published after 1999. I discuss how the Afrikaner characters use the past in their search for identity in a postcolonial and post-apartheid context. <![CDATA[<b>Guilt, guns, girls and ghettos: Adjacent futures in selected post-apartheid fantasies</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT Since 1994, a growing number of South African writers of young adult and crossover fiction have experimented with science fiction and fantasy as tools for anticipating potential futures. In this article, three of these works are considered: The Slayer of Shadows by Elana Bregin, Zoo City by Lauren Beukes and The Mall Rats series consisting of Deadlands and Death of a Saint by Lily Herne. The texts are initially briefly contrasted with two texts by authors based in the USA: Lauren St John's The White Giraffe and Sarah Pinsker's "The Trans-dimensional Horsemaster Rabbis of Mpumalanga Province" to show that the three local writers' engagement with the South African present enables them to resist, in varying degrees, prevalent Western tendencies to see positive African futures in terms of either an idealised pre-colonial past or as the result of redemptive agency by external forces. Although almost twenty years separate the Bregin novel from the others, there are clear similarities between them: each is written by a white woman (or women) and each places a young female protagonist within a crumbling, violent and resolutely urban environment. Paradoxically, the future worlds the authors create are at once both profoundly unfamiliar and recognisably South African, perhaps lending credence to Darko Suvin's view that good fantasy gives rise to "cognitive estrangement" (4) by which the reader is freed to explore troubling issues such as guilt and complicity at a safe emotional remove. By foregrounding and contrasting the presentation of divisive contemporary themes such as gender, race, guilt and violence in these novels, it is hoped to establish whether the repressed fears/desires they articulate are in any way indicative of social attitudes to either present experience or imagined futures and whether such attitudes have changed significantly in the twenty years since the first democratic elections. <![CDATA[<b>Visions of the future in the 'new' Swahili novel: Hope in desperation?</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT The 'new' novel in Swahili, the most significant phenomenon in Swahili literature in the recent decades, has dealt with the questions of the future of the African continent and the world as one of its central themes. Kenyan and Tanzanian authors, whose novels are analysed in the article, present in their works a rather gloomy, apocalyptic-type visions of the future of humanity- but at the same time, leave the readers with hope that the catastrophic situations described in their books may be prevented or solved by joint effort of all the people of Africa joined into one nation. <![CDATA[<b>South African end times: Conceiving an apocalyptic imaginary</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200005&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT The future of South Africa has most commonly been conceived as a prospective apocalyptic upheaval in which the nation fractures along race lines. This expectation preceded, but informed the rise of apartheid, and has accompanied its demise. This article argues that catastrophic prediction-the trope of a looming racial Armageddon-is like a worn coin: familiar currency so often spent. Nonetheless, we need to conceive how this particular political theology settled into our polity; why it has proved so adaptable (through and despite the "miraculous" transformation of 1 994); and, how its tenacity-which is politically anodyne at best and fascist at worst-might be challenged. The article conceives of a study (comprising nine essays) which sets out to analyze aspects of this history of fear, without simply taking its existence and persistence for granted. <![CDATA[<b>Wole Soyinka's dystopian/utopian vision in <i>A Dance of the Forests</i></b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT Although very few critics have ventured to analyze Wole Soyinka's A Donce of the Forests owing to its apparent difficulty, yet those who have attempted simply see it as a metaphorical commentary of the sociopolitical situation in Nigeria. While their observations might be valid, taking into cognizance that the play was written in 1960 as part of the celebration of Nigeria's independence, the problem with such readings is that it does not take into account the structure of the play in which Soyinka traces the past to the present to forecast a dystopian future. While a utopic past and a dystopic present is often enacted as a narrative gesture that concomitantly leads to a utopian future, the reverse is the case in this play. What Wole Soyinka depicts is a dystopian past as well as a dystopian present and future. Therefore, my proposition in this paper is that more than being a work of post-independence disillusionment, Soyinka's A Dance of the Forests l inks the hopeless past with the fruitless present to project a bleak future. In this way, my point of departure in this essay is that while the writing of the play has been motivated by the betrayal of the common trust and hope as it relates to the Nigerian socio-political climate, the message of the play has a universal underpinning. In this respect, Soyinka insists that the atrocities that have so often characterized human interactions generally are unavoidable. Yet, by portraying the unavoidability of these human atrocities, Soyinka invariably quests for a futurity that is utopian. My conclusion, therefore, is that within the aesthetic trajectory of Soyinka, the boundary between dystopian and utopian visions is not clear-cut: they are one and the same. <![CDATA[<b>Cultural nationalism in Mashingaidze Gomo's <i>A Fine Madness</i></b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT For many years, African countries have struggled to develop an ideological framework that suits the dynamics of the African context. From the writings of literary artists to those of political figures such as Kwame Nkrumah, the call has remained consistent: Africa needs to formulate its own path of development and disentangle from the tentacles of colonialism and neocolonialism. While négritude, as a cultural movement, was a direct response to the impact of Western civilisation on Africans in the aftermath of colonization, Gomo's A Fine Madness may be read as a response to the West's dominance in the neoliberal global order. It interrogates the relationship between Europe and Africa in light of persistent war and instability in Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Like négritude, Gomo's work advocates the promotion of African ways of doing things politically, economically and culturally and shuns neocolonial relationships of exploitation. Adopting an anti-imperialist position, A Fine Madnessholds the West responsible for fuelling conflict in some African countries for commercial gain. The article interrogates the concept of cultural nationalism as it has been appropriated in Gomo's work. Focusing on selected poems, the article argues that A FineMadness'is a militant intervention in African politics, and a voice of resistance to the obtaining neoliberal global order. <![CDATA[<b>Constitution Hill: Memory, ideology and utopia</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200008&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT The opening of the Constitutional Court on the 21st March 2004 in Johannesburg was an eventful national day, because, built on the site of the notorious Number 4 prison, the Court symbolized the intention to build a just future out of the memory of oppression. The incorporation of existing prison buildings and materials in the new court building reinforced the discourse of rebuilding and reconciliation that was to characterise the new nation state. As a text the building yields a broader and paradoxical meaning, for the utopian vision of a just future rests in a building in the service of state ideology. This is a paradox because ideology and utopia are regarded as opposites-ideology legitimates the present while utopia critiques it with a vision of a transformed future. However the building demonstrates a feature of ideology that Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch first revealed: that all ideology has a utopian element because without it, no "spiritual surplus, no idea of a better world would be possible." This essay reads the building to show both the function of memory in visions of the future, and the function of utopia in ideology, while using Bloch's theory to interpret the utopian function of the building. <![CDATA[<b>'Regardez la vie reprendre': Futurity in Véronique Tadjo's <i>L'Ombre d'lmana</i> / <i>The Shadow of Imana</i></b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200009&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT In this essay, I review a series of binaries that are examined by Véronique Tadjo's recent narrative about Rwanda and its 1994 genocide, L'Ombre d'Imana (2000, Engl. trans. The Shadow of Imana, 2002), and doubly blurred. These binaries (inside/out, here/there, past/future) and envisaged from two points of view. They are situated first in the dreadful zones of biopolitical indistinction in which the law legalizes its own suspension and renders legal atrocities normally outside the realm of the permissible; and they are re-envisaged in a movement which "turns inside out" (Esposito) these indistinctions to assert an unbroken fabric of life, human or otherwise, which resists even the perversions of the extreme manifestation of biopolitics evinced by genocide. This article shifts its focus away from the customary topic of the relationship between genocide and representation, towards issue of genocide and biopolitics, and to a form of semiois that does not merely "mean", but makes life (continue to) happen. Rwanda may stand, emblematically, for the stamping out of life on the continent, for the existential negativity that African often emblematizes in the global imaginary; by contrast, Tadjo, in her reading of Rwanda, poses to the African continent, not a rhetorical question but a fundamental ontological and existential enquiry: "Comment envisager le futur ici? Quel futur?" (Tadjo 125, "How can you envisage the future here? What future?") <![CDATA[<b>'Reterritorialising' the land: <i>Agaat</i> and cartography</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200010&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT In this article, I look at the ways in which Marlene van Niekerk's Agaat re-orders the ideas of stewardship and land ownership in the South African plaasroman by invoking notions of cartography. I argue that cartography is particularly important for postcolonial theory because writers may project spaces other than, or position themselves in the spaces between, those endorsed by dominant cultures. This is particularly significant for feminism. I argue that the story of mapmaking is important both in Jakkie's frame narrative and in the central narrative dominated by Milla de Wet and her servant Agaat. Together the female protagonists' participation in mapmaking and their use of the alphabet chart through which Milla originally taught Agaat language enables them to escape phallogocentrism. This process of liberation climaxes in their joint involvement in Agaat's embroidery. By embedding Milla's and Agaat's stories in the story of maps, van Niekerk brings about 'a new relationship to the land, to other people and to the tradition of Afrikaans literature' (Gerrit Olivier, "The Dertigers and the Plaasroman: Two Brief Perspectives on Afrikaans Literature"). <![CDATA[<b>Woman for President? 'Alternative' future in the works of Kenyan women writers</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200011&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT The article traces the emergence of 'alternative', positive vision of the future of African countries under the rule of female leaders in Kenyan women's literature, using as examples three novels by Kenyan women writers-Rebecca Njau, Margaret Ogola and Monica Genya. The study comes to a conclusion that the aim of these authors was not to create another 'trivial utopia', but to draw a picture of a possible and accomplishable future which may serve as a motivation for the reading public. <![CDATA[<b>Looking forward towards peace by remembering the past: Recycling war and lived histories in contemporary Mozambican art</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200012&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT Contemporary Mozambican artists who use detritus as media create artworks that chronicle their culture through bits and pieces of its discarded histories. By using culturally specific and symbolically charged recyclia, these artists create art that is quintessentially Mozambican, as the materials they use become potent signifiers of Mozambique. Contemporary artists' use of recycling, in particular the recycling of weapons in the Transforming Arms into Plowshares/Transformação de Armas em Enxadas(TAE) project allows recycling to emerge as a paradigm in contemporary African art, and as a potent tool for cultural investigation. Utilizing recycling as a tool develops a broad, cross-cultural, interdisciplinary framework to investigate complex issues within divergent African and global societies. Artists in Mozambique who recycle are not only connected to cultural and artistic practices of the past, they continue these traditions within contemporary contexts. By creating artwork from cast-off materials, artists who utilize unwanted debris in Mozambique illustrate how recycling permeates all levels of society, including its broad expansion into art making, and how the use of reprocessed materials by artists both inspires and instills a sense of pride in artistic practices. <![CDATA[<b>Peter E. Clarke (2.6.1929-13.4.2014)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200013&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT Contemporary Mozambican artists who use detritus as media create artworks that chronicle their culture through bits and pieces of its discarded histories. By using culturally specific and symbolically charged recyclia, these artists create art that is quintessentially Mozambican, as the materials they use become potent signifiers of Mozambique. Contemporary artists' use of recycling, in particular the recycling of weapons in the Transforming Arms into Plowshares/Transformação de Armas em Enxadas(TAE) project allows recycling to emerge as a paradigm in contemporary African art, and as a potent tool for cultural investigation. Utilizing recycling as a tool develops a broad, cross-cultural, interdisciplinary framework to investigate complex issues within divergent African and global societies. Artists in Mozambique who recycle are not only connected to cultural and artistic practices of the past, they continue these traditions within contemporary contexts. By creating artwork from cast-off materials, artists who utilize unwanted debris in Mozambique illustrate how recycling permeates all levels of society, including its broad expansion into art making, and how the use of reprocessed materials by artists both inspires and instills a sense of pride in artistic practices. <![CDATA[<b>Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014) - 'n persoonlike herinnering</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200014&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en ABSTRACT Contemporary Mozambican artists who use detritus as media create artworks that chronicle their culture through bits and pieces of its discarded histories. By using culturally specific and symbolically charged recyclia, these artists create art that is quintessentially Mozambican, as the materials they use become potent signifiers of Mozambique. Contemporary artists' use of recycling, in particular the recycling of weapons in the Transforming Arms into Plowshares/Transformação de Armas em Enxadas(TAE) project allows recycling to emerge as a paradigm in contemporary African art, and as a potent tool for cultural investigation. Utilizing recycling as a tool develops a broad, cross-cultural, interdisciplinary framework to investigate complex issues within divergent African and global societies. Artists in Mozambique who recycle are not only connected to cultural and artistic practices of the past, they continue these traditions within contemporary contexts. By creating artwork from cast-off materials, artists who utilize unwanted debris in Mozambique illustrate how recycling permeates all levels of society, including its broad expansion into art making, and how the use of reprocessed materials by artists both inspires and instills a sense of pride in artistic practices. http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2014000200015&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en