Centre for African Studies (LUCAS)

General enquiries

Leeds University Centre for African Studies
c/o POLIS,
Social Sciences Building,
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT

Tel: 0113 343 5069
african-studies@leeds.ac.uk

LUCAS Schools Project coordinator

Richard Borowski
R.Borowski@leeds.ac.uk

‘A Century of South African Writing’ with Niq Mhlongo

———– NOW UNFORTUNATELY CANCELLED ———

‘A Century of South African Writing’ with Niq Mhlongo: Lecture, reading and drinks reception

Originally – Thursday 29 June 2017 – now postponed due to visa issues

For the final Postcolonial and World Literatures event of the year, we are delighted to welcome to Leeds South African writer Niq Mhlongo, author of Dog Eat Dog and Affluenza.  During his visit, Niq will deliver a lecture entitled, ‘A Century of South African Writing: Embedded tropes and emerging motifs in South African literature by black authors’ (the abstract for which can be found below). This will be followed by a reading and Q&A. Born in Soweto in 1973, Niq has been called, “one of the most high-spirited and irreverent new voices of South Africa’s post-apartheid literary scene”. All are welcome to attend. Please contact en11rejm@leeds.ac.uk if you have any queries or visit: https://leedspocoworldlit.wordpress.com.

This event is organised in association with International Writers at Leeds and the Leverhulme Trust project ‘Traumatic Pasts, Cosmopolitanism and Nation Building in German and South African Literature‘, led by Professor Stuart Taberner.

 

‘A Century of South African Writing: Embedded Tropes and Emerging Motifs in South African Literature by Black Authors’

Abstract 

One of South Africa’s leading scholars, author, and activist Es’kia Mphahlele argues that: “every writer is a product of his or her own history, and that the writer’s thoughts and feelings can be shaped by events and moments of world history whose impact registers on people as a world community. Thus South African writers cannot escape the influence of the global systems of communication or avoid the country’s historical realities.”

With this as a starting point, my presentation will focus on four periods that I suggest define or characterize the tropes and motifs in South African Literature written by black authors. Firstly, I will look at the period between 1910-1940 to talk about the land and dispossession motif. I will use Sol Plaatje’s Native Life in South Africa as an example of a fight against displacement in South African Literature by black authors. Secondly, I will talk about the Drum Era of between 1950-1960: a period of repressive apartheid laws. Here I will use the writings of Es’kia Mphahlele, Can Themba, Nat Nakasa as examples of literature that was inclined to reveal the atrocities committed against black people by the minority apartheid government. The third period is that of the Black Consciousness era of around 1960-1990. I will use the writings of Steve Biko, Matabane, and Wally Serote to show the importance of identity as a major theme during this period. To do this I will also talk about the protest literature that also emerged around that time. Lastly, I will discuss the post-apartheid period which is the generation that I belong to. This generation, liberated from apartheid, focus instead on the challenges that we are facing today in South Africa. I will discuss the themes that this generation of writers engage with, ranging from xenophobia, homophobia, unemployment, service delivery, racism, entrepreneurship, and corruption. I will also argue that themes of land and dispossession are recurring in today’s literature.

Niq Mhlongo was born in 1973 in Soweto, South Africa. He has a BA from the University of the Witwatersrand in African Literature and Political Studies and was a 2008 International Writing Program fellow at the University of Iowa. His first novel, Dog Eat Dog, was published by Kwela in 2004 and the Spanish edition was awarded the Mar de Letras prize. Mhlongo has presented his work at key African cultural venues, including the Caine Prize Workshop and the Zanzibar International Film Festival. His work has been translated into Spanish and Italian.

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