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By Christopher Heywood

Christopher Heywood surveys consultant South African poems, performs and prose works in 5 literary traditions: Khoisan, Nguni-Sotho, Afrikaans, English, and Indian. Heywood's choices comprise over a hundred authors and chosen works--covering poetry, theater and prose. Explored within the context of crises resulting in the formation of contemporary South Africa, South African literature emerges from this research as one of many nice literatures of the trendy global.

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Plaatje, the Drum generation from Mphahlele to Head, and the later generation of poets and novelists from Mongane Serote and Mazisi Kunene to Lauretta Ngcobo and Zakes Mda. This living tradition has transformed the performing arts in South Africa. In his introduction to Woza Afrika! (1986), a collection of South African plays, Dumakude kaNdlovu recalls: ‘In the city dwellers’ minds there remained vivid images of grandmothers and grandfathers telling their stories to families by the Poetry before Sharpeville 35 fireside.

Peires’ The House of Phalo (1981), Colin Bundy’s The Rise and Fall of the South African Peasantry (1988), and Jeff Guy’s The Destruction of the Zulu Kingdom (1994). Literary responses include numerous works of fiction and poetry on the rise and fall of the Shaka kingdom, notably Thomas Mofolo’s novel Chaka (1931), and Herbert Dhlomo’s long poem, The Valley of a Thousand Hills (1941). The impact of Mofolo’s Chaka, an early African novel by a black writer, appears indirectly through its having served as a model for later novels and plays by West African writers.

37 Resistance to various forms of these ideologies abound in South Africa. 38 Relocation of a widespread topic from the tale of Moses appears in Mandela’s memories of his days at school. Recalling a performance by the poet Krune Mqhayi, Mandela wrote: ‘When he spoke this last word, he dropped his head to his chest. We rose to our feet, clapping and cheering. I did not want ever to stop applauding. I felt such intense pride at that point, not as an African, but as a Xhosa; I felt like one of the chosen people’ (Mandela, pp.

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