Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

Fictions of Autobiographical Representations: Joshua Nkomo's the Story of My Life

Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

Fictions of Autobiographical Representations: Joshua Nkomo's the Story of My Life

Article excerpt

Summary

The aim of this article is to critically analyse the problems of the ideologies of narrativity raised in Joshua Nkomo's autobiography The Story of My Life. When this Zimbabwean version of the book was published in 2001, there were speculations and "gossip" that its contents had been tampered with by the Zimbabwean editor. However, a close comparison with the contents of the first edition published by Methuen of London, revealed that there were no editorial changes that could have prejudiced the depiction of his public image published in Zimbabwe. The Story of My Life documents the details of Nkomo's life from the point of his birth to his life as an immigrant in South Africa, and then a nationalist guerrilla, up to the period of independence from 1980 when he was politically persecuted by Robert Mugabe. This article demonstrates that in attempting to tell the story of his life, Nkomo found himself forced to suppress some facts about the contradictions that he lived in his personal and political life. The article argues that although Nkomo details the pain he suffered in the hands of Robert Mugabe, he could not totally ward off the lure of the dominant ideology that inclined him to explain his political misfortunes in tribal terms. The article suggests that the "fictions" contained in autobiographical works such as Nkomo's story is that they lay claim to the authority of incontestable truth emanating from a single subject position. This perception that Nkomo's book promotes should be questioned because any account of the self is predicated on the suppression of some facts of "other selves". This irony at the heart of autobiographical writings suggests that the storyteller unconsciously suppresses certain memories which may not "sit" comfortably with the version of personal/national history that a story of self-inscription is forced to authorise.

Opsomming

Die doel met hierdie artikel is 'n kritieke ontleding van die probleme van die vertellingsideologiee wat uitgelig word in Joshua Nkomo se outobiografie The Story of My Life. Toe hierdie Zimbabwiese weergawe van die boek in 2001 uitgegee is, was daar bespiegelinge dat die Zimbabwiese redakteur aan die inhoud gepeuter bet. 'n Sorgvuldige vergelyking met die eerste uitgawe deur Methuen, Londen, her egter aan die lig gebring dat geen redaksionele veranderinge aangebring is wat afbreuk kon doen aan die beeld van Nkomo se openbare lewe soos weergegee in die tweede uitgawe wat in Zimbabwe uitgegee is nie. The Story of My Life bevat 'n dokumentasie van Nkomo se lewe, van sY geboorte af tot sy immigrasie na SuidAfrika, en later sy ervaringe as nasionalistiese guerillavegter tot die tydperk van onafhank-likheid na 1980 toe hy polities deur Robert Mugabe vervolg is. Die artikel suggereer dat Nkomo in sy poging om die verhaal van sy lewe te vertel noodgedwonge sommige feite aangaande die teenstrydighede in sy persoonlike en politieke lewe moes onderdruk. Daar word aangevoer dat, hoewel Nkomo uitwei oor die leed wat Robert Mugabe hom aangedoen het, hy nie volkome die aanloklikheid van die dominante ideologie kon vryspring nie. Hy probeer sy politieke teenspoed in stamterme verduidelik. Die artikel gee te kenne dat die "fiksie" in outobiografiese werke soos die deur Nkomo daarin Ie dat hulle op die gesag van onweerlegbare waarheid aanspraak maak. Hierdie persepsie wat deur Nkomo se boek bevorder word, moet bevraagteken word, omdat enige vertelling oor die self gegrond word op die onderdrukking van feite aangaande "ander selwe". Hierdie ironie, wat die wese van outobiografiese geskrifte uitmaak, dui daarop dat die storieverteller bepaalde herinneringe onderdruk wat moontlik nie gemaklik pas by die weergawe van persoonlike en/of nasionale geskiedenis van selfvertelling nie.

Interfacing Fact and Fiction

Autobiographies are personal histories and stories of one's life, which tend to lay claim to objective truth. However, the "migration" of a personal story from the individual to the community, from the local context of its production to the global arena of reception, is one that is fraught with contradictions. …

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