Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Let's Sing Our Heroes: A Comparison of Biographical Series for Children in Kenya and South Africa/Kom Ons Besing Ons Helde: 'N Vergelyking Van Biografiese Reekse Vir Kinders Van Kenia En Suid-Afrika

Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Let's Sing Our Heroes: A Comparison of Biographical Series for Children in Kenya and South Africa/Kom Ons Besing Ons Helde: 'N Vergelyking Van Biografiese Reekse Vir Kinders Van Kenia En Suid-Afrika

Article excerpt

Abstract

Let's sing out heroes: A comparison of biographical series for children in Kenya and South Africa

In this article two series of biographies written for children, and dealing with prominent personalities in Kenya and South Africa, are compared. In the line of argumentation developed the aim is to examine the main features in these biographies, and to indicate the importance of biographies in the general field of children's literature. By examining a sample text from each series the specific ways in which the authors mould these personalities into heroes of their countries are scrutinised. Furthermore the way in which gender is represented in the two series is also examined and it is argued that both men and women form part of any country's gallery of heroes. Underlying the main argument of the article is the contention that biographies are important in perpetuating the stories of the two countries' heroes: also in teaching the history of each country to the young. A general motif of hard work resonates in these works, and therefore it is asserted that individuals' biographies can be used as anecdotes to communicate with and to inspire and encourage young readers. The authors of the biographies actually intervene by presenting children with role models. Furthermore these role models are not abstract fictional characters but real human beings who made great sacrifices for their countries--people with whom children are thus able to identify.

Key concepts:

biography as literary genre history of the nation--the representation of national heroes--Kenyan and South African role models for children: hero figures

Opsomming

Kom ons besing ons helde: 'n vergelyking van biografiese reekse vir kinders van Kenia en Suid-Afrika

In hierdie artikel word twee reekse biografiee wat vir kinders bedoel is en wat handel oor prominente persoonlikhede in Kenia en Suid-Afrika, vergelyk. In die beredeneringslyn wat in die artikel gevolg word, is die doel om die belangrikste kenmerke van die biografiee te ondersoek en om die belangrikheid van biografiee binne die algemene veld van kinderlieratuur aan te toon. Deur 'n teks van elke reeks te ondersoek, word die spesifieke maniere nagegaan waarop die skrywers hierdie persoonlikhede vergestalt as hulle lande se volkshelde. Verder word ook nagegaan hoe geslag weergegee word in die twee reekse en word aangevoer dat sowel mans as vroue deel is van enige land se helde. Onderliggend aan die beredering hiervan word geimpliseer dat biografiee belangrik is vir die uitbeelding van die verhale van albei lande se helde--belangrik ook vir die onderrig van elke land se geskiedenis aan die jeug. 'n Algemene motief van harde werk resoneer in hierdie reekse. Individuele biografiee kan dus aangewend word as anekdotes om te kommunikeer met, en oto jeugdige lesers aan te moedig. Die skrywers van hierdie biografiee doen as 't ware Jets ingrypends deur kinders as rolmodelle voor te hou. Verder is hierdie rolmodelle nie abstrakte en denkbeeldige karakters nie, maar regte mense, wat groot opofferings gemaak het vir hulle land--mense met wie kinders maklik kan identifiseer.

Kernbegrippe:

biografie as letterkundige genre geskiedenis van 'n nasie--die weergee van nasionale helde--in Kenia en Suid-Afrika rolmodelle vir kinders: heldefigure

1. Introduction

Bethwell Ogot (2003:8-9) argues that if a country's heroes and heroines are forgotten, or if their contribution to their country's liberation struggle is not remembered after their death, then such heroes are condemned to a second death. They die a real first death and then a second death when their sacrifices and their heroism are shifted to the background and eventually forgotten. Ogot (2003) quotes David Macey to argue the case of Franz Fanon who was not recognised as one of the Algerian heroes after independence, despite his contribution to the fight for the Algerian liberation. …

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