South-African AuthorsMany writers have been writing during apartheid and post-apartheid era. Having their originsin South Africa, most of them witnessed the racial and ethnic issues. Three of the authors arediscussed hereManu HerbsteinManu Herbstein (b. 1936 near Cape Town, South Africa) holds dual South Africanand Ghanaian citizenship. In the 1960s he worked as a civil and structural engineer inEngland, Nigeria, Ghana, India, Ghana again, Zambia and Scotland. He was active in theAnti-Apartheid Movement in London and in Glasgow and during the 1960s he made regularmonthly contributions to the ANC via an account in the name, O.R. Tambo and T.X.Makiwane.From 1963-1965, along with Arun Ganghi, Herbstein founded and lead the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Bombay, India and from 1967 to 1968 he was on the ANC’s fund-raising committee in Lusaka.He returned to Ghana in 1970 and has lived there since. He began writing seriouslyas he approached retirement. His novel, Ama, a Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, won the2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Best First Book.His first novel is Ama, A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade. In 1775, the kingdom ofAsante has conquered its northern neighbor, Dagbon, and exacted an annual tribute of 500slaves. "Ama" is a story of the eponymous heroine who is caught up in the aftermath of theseevents, and whose travels (and travails) take her as a slave to the Americas. The protagonist iscaptured and eventually transported to Brazil. Ama adopts various strategies in her struggleagainst the deprivation of her liberty, striking a balance between, on the one hand, escape andresistance and, on the other, accommodation to the realities of the power of her oppressors.Once asked about the idea behind this novel, Manu replied:“The Atlantic slave trade is the foundation upon which what we used to callimperialism and now call globalization was constructed. Slave plantations were prototypesboth for the factories of the industrial revolution in the West and for the British and Naziconcentration camps. We must resist the collective historical amnesia which the West hasimposed upon us.
The stories of hardly any of the millions of Africans who, over a period of fourcenturies, were subjected to forced migration across the ocean, have survived. We know thenames of the Jews, Roma, homosexuals and communists who were sent to the Nazi gaschambers. The names of almost all the twelve million enslaved Africans are irretrievably lost.We need to conjure up their spirits, give them back their names and listen to their voices.”In "Brave Music of a Distant Drum," a blind old slave woman, Ama, summons herson to come and write down her story so that her granddaughter and her granddaughterschildren can one day read it and know their history.Amas son, Kwame Zumbi - named Zacharias Williams by the white Christians who raisedhim - considers his mother an old pagan and has little interest in doing more than is necessaryto fulfill his obligation to her. How he is changed by the acts of hearing and writing down thedetails of his mothers story is as powerful and important a story as Amas.In one of his interviews he said:“Growing up in apartheid South Africa it was difficult to be unaware of injustice. Asearly as primary school I sensed that the South African history I was taught was largelypropaganda. I guess that planted in my mind the seeds of the idea that there are at least twohistories, the dominant one told by the winners and another, often untold, of those at thereceiving end.”Zakes MdaZakes Mda is the most “critically acclaimed” author of the post-Apartheid blackSouth African literary scene. After spending 32 years in exile, his novel depicts characterscoming to term with post-Apartheid life. His work’s most important theme is the struggle tohold on to the traditional African values in the face of new South African politics andWestern materialism. In his works he has used performance technique to educate people fordemocracy. His novels investigates the role of history, community and memory in reforminga new national identity.Zakes’s much admired work is The Heart of Redness and Ways of Dying. The Heartof Redness published in 2000, is set in Qolorha in which redness indicates traditional SouthAfrica. Camagu a former resident comes after several years of chosen ‘exile’ in Americawhere he becomes a ‘communication specialist’. He find himself overqualified andunemployed, “a stranger in his own country” (31). Zake in his novel has recreated the
historical record in which war between amaXhosa and the British in South Africa wasinterrupted. The natives split themselves into two, the one who compromised, and the onewho resisted. The believers opposed the changes led by British materialism and theunbelievers wanted economic development.In The heart of redness, Mda explores the contrasts between the present Westernizedurban black per-son, the rural areas where traditional beliefs are being contested and the pastwhere traditional beliefs were still dominant but challenged by the two central events ofXhosa history British imperialism and the Great Cattle Killing. Camagu’s encounter with thevillagers led him to discover his ancestral rootsWays of Dying is set in a transitional years of first democratic elections. A time whengovernment officials and revolutionary “liberators” alike score wholesale slaughter ofinnocent villagers, middle-aged Toloki supports himself as a traveling paid mourner whogrieves publicly at strangers’ funerals. During one unusual Christmas Day burial service, heencounters Noria, once a notoriously wild young girl in their common home village, whoseyoung son has been murdered. They form a union: a statement that initiates a rhythmic swingof present-day experiences widespread with political violence and peril with extendedflashbacks to their briefly shared and mostly separate pasts. A communal voice “we live ourlives as one” tells their stories, also layering in colorful related tales involving such strikingcharacters as the wily pragmatic taxicab driver Shadrack, a proud archbishop, Nefolovhowethe coffin-maker, and a compassionate “twilight mum” (Madimvhaza) who cares forabandoned children. Their several stories cohere to underscore the insight that has shapedToloki’s life: “Death lives with us every day. Indeed our ways of dying are our ways ofliving.”Mda highlights the haunting presence of the violent past of apartheid and slavery inthe present, and suggests that in mourning the past, memory might lead in unexpected,uncomfortable directions, rather than restoring a whole identity or healing the scars of thepast. In stepping beyond redemptive forms of memory, Mda asks for new forms of politicsthat are equal to the task of imagining the possibilities of contemporary life. The novel offersheinous scenes of violent death which seems to generate itself endlessly, as “funerals acquirea life of their own, and give birth to other funerals” (160). The scene of patrolling andburning people alive condemn people to temporal freeze. The novel talks about the violentpast and uncertain present.
Zoë WicombZoë Wicomb was born in Namaqualand, South Africa where she learned English "bycopying the radio" (Anstey). She lived in England the went back to South Africa and taughtat the University of the Western Cape. She now resides in Scotland where she is a professorat the University of Strathclyde. She is the author of numerous articles dealing with issues offeminism and postcolonial literature. Her first book, a collection of short stories, You Cantget Lost in Cape Town is regarded very highly. Since then she has written a novel whichreally wrestles with issues of identity, race, ethnicity, representation, feminism, and love.You Cant Get Lost in Cape Town is among the only works of fiction to explore theexperience of “Coloured” citizens in apartheid-era South Africa, whose mixed heritage trapsthem, as Bharati Mukherjee wrote in the New York Times, “in the racial crucible of theircountry." Frieda Shenton, the daughter of Coloured parents in rural South Africa, is taught asa child to emulate whites: she is encouraged to learn correct English, to straighten her hair,and to do more than, as her father says, “peg out the madam’s washing.”While still a self-conscious and overweight adolescent, Frieda is sent away fromhome to be among the first to integrate a prestigious Anglican high school in Cape Town, andfinds herself in a city where racial lines are so strictly drawn that it is not possible to step outof one’s place. Facing painful isolation as a Coloured student and as a girl who knows she is“not the kind of girl whom boys look at,” she realizes that even the education her parentsyearned for will not bring her freedom or a secure sense of identity in her tormented country.At last, Frieda flees to England, only to return more than a decade later to a SouthAfrica now in violent rebellion against apartheid—but still, seemingly, without a place forher. It is only as Frieda finds the courage to tell her “terrible stories” that she at last begins tocreate her own place in a world where she has always felt herself an exile.The 1987 publication of You Cant Get Lost in Cape Town won Zoë Wicomb aninternational readership and wide critical acclaim. As richly imagined and stylisticallyinnovative as Wicombs debut work, Davids Story is a mesmerizing novel, multilayered andmultivoiced, at times elegiac, wry, and expansive.Unfolding in South Africa at the moment of Nelson Mandelas release from prison in1991, the novel explores the life and vision of David Dirkse, part of the underground world of
activists, spies, and saboteurs in the liberation movement—a world seldom revealed tooutsiders. With "time to think" after the unbanning of the movement, David is researching hisroots in the history of the mixed-race "Coloured" people of South Africa and of theirantecedents among the indigenous people and early colonial settlers.But David soon learns that he is on a hit list, and, caught in a web of betrayal andsurveillance, he is forced to rethink his role in the struggle for "nonracial democracy," theloyalty of his "comrades," and his own conceptions of freedom. Through voices and stories ofDavid and the women who surround him—responding to, illuminating, and sometimescontradicting one another—Wicomb offers a moving exploration of the nature of politicalvision, memory, and truth.