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In Cornelius Jakob Langenhoven fostered Afrikaans in schools, and the language was soon after studied at universities and used as a medium of instruction. Parliament recognized Afrikaans as an official language in , six years after it was named the language of the Dutch Reformed Church. Earlier 19th-century writing had been heavily didactic; by the s this had begun to change. Leipoldt , who would one day be condemned as a traitor to Afrikaners, was probably one of the greatest and most original poets of the early 20th century, while Marais in his poetry linked European tradition to the realities of life in South Africa.
Prose also appeared during this period, moving away from such melodramatic works as Johannes van Wyk , a novel by J. Pienaar pseudonym Sangiro wrote popular books about animals. Drama also began to flourish through the writings of Leipoldt, Langenhoven, and H. Langenhoven was also a popular poet, as was A. Dramatic events in the s—including a drought that caused many farmers to move to the cities, significant political changes, a sharpening of racial conflict, and the deepening of the Afrikaans-English conflict—isolated Afrikaners more dramatically in South Africa, and fiercely partisan organizations such as the Afrikaner-Broederbond and Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge gained new adherents.
The poetry of W. Louw, N. Uys Krige wrote romantic poetry but is known for his war poetry and as a dramatist. There was prose written during this period by Abraham H.
Jonker, C. Opperman continued the experimentation with the Afrikaans language in his poetry, and he introduced decisively South African racial themes into his work. In Arthur Fula became one of the first black Africans to write a novel in Afrikaans. Audrey Blignault and Elise Muller wrote short stories and essays. Anna M. Louw wrote novels. Brink , Abraham de Vries, and Chris Barnard experimented with the novel and moved into areas largely forbidden until that time, such as sex and atheism. Ingrid Jonker wrote intensely personal poetry.
Book awards: Central News Agency Literary Award
His Katastrofes ; Catastrophes is a series of sketches that take racism, death, and madness as their subjects. These themes persisted through the end of the 20th century. Although one can point to a few Afrikaans texts by coloured or black women published in anthologies like I Qabane Labantu. Poetry in the emergency , no novels, collections of short stories or volumes of poetry exist in mainstream Afrikaans literature. This silence can undoubtedly be read as an indication of the double colonization effected by Afrikaner cultural domination on the grounds of race as well as gender.
Afrikaans writing by women until the sixties was influenced by the ambivalent position of Afrikaans women who were part of a group who felt themselves colonized by white British imperialism but who also colonized black South Africans.
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It is also interesting to note that women writers achieved considerable prominence in the Afrikaans literary system despite gender oppression, although this does not necessarily imply a well developed feminist discourse Van Niekerk 5. Since the sixties, but especially during the seventies and the political emergency of the eighties, Afrikaans women writers have occupied a strong place in the tradition of dissidence against the apartheid regime in Afrikaans literature.
Their position is therefore not unlike that of white settler women in previous centuries whose narrative stance was considerably complicated by their alignment with colonized blacks but simultaneous entrapment in the discourses of imperialism and patriarchy implicit in the mere act of writing in a colonial context Driver The complex social, historical and cultural positionality that emerges from these texts again indicates that it would be a mistake to regard even the small Afrikaans literature as a monolithic entity.
The narrator in this short novel is a white woman whose husband unexpectedly leaves her and their four-year-old child to join in the armed struggle against apartheid. She angrily confronts the reader with these facts on the first page of the novel as she registers her fury at being left behind by her husband, declaring it to be the starting point of her narrative. It is interesting to note that anger has been inspirational for more than one Afrikaans woman writer. After living through a nadir of emotional estrangement and inertia, she slowly comes to terms with her feelings of rejection and inadequacy, regaining her independence and the confidence to live her own life.
The novel demonstrates that her trauma is related to the way in which her subjectivity is constructed in terms of gender, race and class relationships. Her gender identity is mainly constructed in terms of the differences between her and her husband. He is described as intellectual, capable of thinking in macro-political terms, intolerant of contradictions or ambivalence, prepared to go to war and sacrifice the safety of his bourgeois home and nuclear family to achieve his political ideal of freedom for the oppressed.
According to her own analysis she is a vessel filled with ideological content by her husband who dreams of a whole that will accommodate ambivalence and contradiction, wants to entrench the confines of their nuclear family rather than break it open, thinks of opposing the regime but not of leaving their home and joining the war as he did. In comparison to his she finds hers a small life of no consequence p. She feels that her own life as a white woman is less meaningful and consequential than those of black men and women involved in the struggle against oppression.
As the white owner of a solid bourgeois home, she stands in a relationship of economic as well as racial power towards the homeless couple Frans and Bettie, the destitute woman Sylvia whose house burnt down and the gardener Nevil who all knock at her door to ask for food or shelter and who depend on her goodwill for their survival. At first she hides from them in her house, frightened and silent p. Thus she succeeds in breaking out of the constricting patterns preordained by gender, race and class in pre-democratic South Africa.
The narrator registers her rebellion against the various forms of domination which gives rise to her feelings of inadequacy and inferiority on a narrative level. The novel disengages itself from traditional narrative patterns interpreted by feminists as patriarchally determined by subverting linear causality, closure and authorial control. The narrative outwardly follows the linear progress of the seasons but gives priority to the chaotic and unresolved inner life of the narrative as a structuring device. The novel also takes as its terrain the personal, the intuitive, the subconscious and the microphysical domain rather than the public.
Whereas her husband analyses the political situation in South Africa on an intellectual level p. Thus image and fantasy often take the place of intellectual analysis and event in her narrative. At certain points in the narrative the concentration on the private and personal becomes a preoccupation with the microphysical. This is evident from the scientifically detailed descriptions of sexual organs during intercourse, especially the male organ during erection and ejaculation pp.
Thus the construction of the narrating subject at the intersection of race, gender, class and writing is interrogated on a thematic as well as a structural level. Lady Anne Barnard was a Scottish noblewoman who married her husband Andrew, a former soldier twelve years her junior, in Because she was a friend of Sir Henry Dundas, then Secretary of State for War, she procured for her husband the post of Colonial Secretary at the Cape during the first British occupation from to Unusually for a woman of her time and class she accompanied her husband to the Cape in where they lived until The letters, journals, diaries and drawings she produced during her stay at the Cape and travels into the interior have become an important source of information about the people, events and social life of the time, because she recorded particulars male writers considered beneath their notice.
She is also retained in popular memory as a socialite, known for entertaining at the Castle at the Cape of Good Hope as the official hostess of governor Macartney Lenta in Robinson x-xix. Some poems are written from the perspective of Lady Anne while other poems are written from the perspective of an I that can be autobiographically linked to the poet.
Still another set of poems place the two women together in situations that imaginatively overstep the boundaries of time and space. Similarities as well as dissimilarities in the way the subjectivity of both these women is determined by race, class and gender in different historical contexts emerge from the poems. The volume also refers to the fact that Lady Anne lived in a time of political upheaval.
Some of the poems show her in Paris during the time of the French Revolution feeling guilty about the fact that personal sorrow stands in the way of political concern pp. She looks at South Africa from the perspective of a permanent inhabitant who feels morally compelled to take part in the establishment of a just society in that country. Her writing is decisively influenced by the context of political emergency in which she finds herself. Because the epic usually traces the history of great men and nations, the mere fact that Krog chose a woman as subject of her postmodern epic makes a statement about the importance of gender issues amid the struggle for racial equality in South Africa.
One of the poems even depicts her as expressing a militant erotic desire to grow a penis and to possess her husband sexually in the manner of a man p. The poems referring to the poet Krog herself show the way in which she struggles to reconcile different facets of her gendered position sexual partner, wife, mother, daughter, domestic manager and how they interact with her writing as well as political and religious consciousness. These feelings emerge in several poems self-reflexively charting the course of her project of writing about Lady Anne.
One of these quotations describing a black working class woman p. By inserting this reference to the black working class woman the poet questions her own position as a privileged white woman writing about another priviliged white woman. These stories with their strongly factual content focus on the issues of political struggle, race and language that are usually associated with the oppositional phase of postcolonialism.
The narrator in this collection of interconnected stories takes an active part in the political struggle, writing newspaper reports about the political crisis, carrying guns, nursing the wounded and doing paper work like taking down statements from victims of political violence. Although she is a privileged white, the narrator identifies herself actively with the struggle of the racially oppressed in South Africa.
This does not however mean that her position as a white woman in the struggle is unproblematic. White is a conspicuous colour] p. Some of her assignments are also the direct result of her marginality in the struggle as a white person. She realises: "Dis 'n swart-bruin ding hierdie en 'n whitey om die can te carry" [This is a black-coloured-thing with a whitey carrying the can] p. Her conclusion illustrates the dilemma of the person who completes the cross-over between races in times of political upheaval: "Maar commitment is commitment.
An order is an order. And where will I, ex-Afrikaner, be tomorrow if I do not carry out the order? Some stories demonstrate that the perception of Afrikaans as language of the oppressor is transferred onto the Afrikaans-speaking narrator despite her commitment to the liberation struggle.
Her identity as an Afrikaans-speaking white is complicated by the revelation in another story that her familiy emigrated from Holland to South Africa when she was five years old.
Die Swerfjare van Poppie Nongena
She comments ironically: "Verwoerd was vyf toe hy die eerste keer sy Hollandse voet op Afrikaanse grond gesit het, spot ek. Ek ook. Moet minstens nie ons Afrikanerskap in twyfel trek nie" [Verwoerd was five years old when he first set his Dutch foot on Afrikaans soil, I say jokingly. Me too. At least do not doubt our Afrikaner identity] p. The stories also note the use of Afrikaans by the violent oppressors with devastating candour p. The collection also touches on the nature of the relationship between the political commitment to the struggle and the personal commitment to a love affair.
Without reducing the importance of either one, the story demonstrates the problematic interaction of the political struggle with personal relationships.
It is significant that gender is under-emphasised in these stories. The collection contains only three references to the gender of the narrator pp. The relative lack of attention for gender issues in these stories can be interpreted in different ways. It can either be read as an indication that race should get preference over gender in the political struggle or a powerful commentary on the undervalued position of women in the struggle. Thus the dialogue between race and gender is extended to include the issue of sexuality or gay rights. The struggle for the political rights of the racially oppressed were often given priority over the struggle for gay rights in pre-democratic South Africa, in the same way that the struggle against gender oppression was subordinated by the struggle against racial oppression Gevisser The collection combines a European narrative tradition as manifested in the use of several postmodernist strategies with an African narrative tradition references to the Zulu oral narration as carried forth by women to forge a new narrative strategy for the South African situation.
Apart from this the difficult process of transculturation is achieved through an intricate interplay of focalisations that leads to the dismantling of privileged and patronising vantage points. Most of the stories included in the collection are situated in rural KwaZulu-Natal where Scheepers grew up and later taught as a university lecturer at the University of Zululand.
To further emphasise the influence of the Zulu narrative tradition on this collection of stories, it is preceded and concluded by traditional storytelling formulas in Zulu. Other stories in the collection chart the diverse forms of colonization still experienced by women in the remote rural regions of South Africa. Although the black girl condemned by the power of the male Isangoma and the white woman negotiating with a patriarchal God are both subject to male domination, this story shows that gender does not necessarily unify them in a glorious sisterhood but that it is definitively intersected by race and class.
While the black nursing sister is treating the mutilated girl, the student is sent to free a cow that got caught in a wire fence outside the clinic. The narrative places the student, the narrator as well as the reader in a position of voyeuristic power in relation to the silent and defenceless victim, almost implicating them in this colonizing abuse of women. In this postmodernist collage of intertwining discourses a discussion about violence is conducted with two men, both Afrikaans writers who have written on violence.
Incorporating references to the first democratic election in South Africa in April , it appeared only a month or two after the election. The novel recounts the monotonous daily lives of a family of poor white Afrikaners, showing how apartheid failed even those it was ideologically designed to benefit.
The family lives in the Johannesburg suburb ironically called Triomf Afrikaans for triumph , built on the ruins of the black township Sophiatown that was demolished in the fifties by the social engineers of apartheid to create a suburb for the white working class. Nothing has changed and the final moments of the novel depicts them looking at the constellation of Orion over the roofs of Triomf, without a north they can escape to. Underneath its naturalistic surface the novel is richly symbolic.
On a political level the incestuous and inbred Benade-family becomes symbolic of the extremes to which the apartheid philosophy of racial exclusivity led. The novel also discloses the historical circumstances that led to their condition their ancestors were landowners forced off their land during a depression to become impoverished workers in the railways and garment industry in the city. On a religious level the family consisting of two brothers and sister together with their ironically innocent son can be read as a symbolic perversion of the myths of origin found in several world religions, the trinity and sacrificial lamb of Christian religion, the different images of the devil as well as the idea of an apocalypse.
Although this novel is not exclusively occupied with gender issues it demonstrates more eloquently than any feminist treatise could the position of women in such conditions. The objectification of Mol, the sister of Pop and Treppie and mother of their child Lambert, reaches atrocious depths. She is emotionally, verbally, physically and sexually abused, especially by her brother Treppie and her son Lambert.
She is the sexual tool of all three the men and her status as a sex object is underlined by the fact that their beat-up car is also called Mol.
Central News Agency Literary Award | Awards | LibraryThing
In her paradoxical ability to evoke feelings of revulsion as well as compassion for the degenerate Benade-family, the writer illustrates the intricate relationship between the colonial and the postcolonial that has to be negotiated when writing the new South Africa. The texts by Viljoen, Krog and Huismans demonstrate their commitment to the project of an oppositional postcolonialism as well as the complexities involved in such a commitment for an Afrikaans woman writer. Afrikaans literature - including these texts written by women - has shown that it is willing and able to make a meaningful contribution to a postcolonial South Africa as well as the continuous process of defining a heterogenuous postcolonialism.
Past the Last Post. Theorizing Post-Colonialism and Post- Modernism. Calgary: University of Calgary Press. Ahmad, Aijaz. In Theory. Classes, Nations, Literatures. London: Verso. The Empire Writes Back. Theory and Practice in Post- Colonial Literatures. London: Routledge.
Op pad na Afrikaans in 'n post koloniale situasie.
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