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

Young South Africans and Cultural (Mal)practice: Breaking the Silence in Recent writing/Jong Suid-Afrikaners En Kulturele (Wan)praktyke: Verbreking Van Die Stilte in Onlangse Prosa

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

Young South Africans and Cultural (Mal)practice: Breaking the Silence in Recent writing/Jong Suid-Afrikaners En Kulturele (Wan)praktyke: Verbreking Van Die Stilte in Onlangse Prosa

Article excerpt

This article considered the literary representation of young South Africans coming of age within a post-apartheid, multicultural context and forging for themselves a modern identity across a divide between, and also within, cultures. They identify themselves with the global West, but also subscribe to indigenous African values, whilst recognising how they themselves have been damaged by corrupted cultural practices. Postcolonial theories of identity-formation --Said's argument that post-imperial cultures are all hybrid and heterogeneous, Bhabha's interstitial 'third space' where postcolonial identities are produced through processes of negotiation and translation, Hall's theory that cultural identity is based on differences and discontinuities rather than on fixed essences, De Kock's notion of a 'cultural seam' or site where cultures both differ and converge and difference and sameness are sutured together, Nuttall's notion of entanglement, and Clingman's theory of the transitive self--are used for understanding how young South Africans are shown in recent writing as having been shaped by traditional cultural practices and also damaged by cultural malpractices. Texts chosen for discussion are Adam Ashforth's Madumo, about witchcraft, Russell Kaschula's short story, 'Six teaspoons of sweetness' and Gcina Mhlope's short story, 'Nokulunga's wedding', both of which deal with ukuthwala [forced marriage abduction] and, finally, Thando Mgqolozana's novel, A man who is not a man, which deals with the consequences of a botched traditional circumcision. The article argued that self-reflexive critical and imaginative engagement by young people with the cultures that have formed--and deformed--them is a mark of the true coming-of-age of postcolonial and post-apartheid writing.

Hierdie artikel ontleed die uitbeelding van jong Suid-Afrikaners wat in 'n multikulturele konteks tot volwassenheid kom en vir hulself 'n moderne identiteit bou oor die klowe tussen --en binne--verskillende kulturele stelsels. Enersyds vereenselwig hulle hul met die globale Weste, en andersyds behoort hulle tot inheemse Afrika-kulture. Tegelykertyd besef hulle hoe hul geskaad is deur verworde kulturele gebrulke. Postkoloniale teoriee oor identiteitsvorming --Said se siening van postimperialistiese kulture as hibried en heterogeen, Bhabha se 'derde ruimte' waar postkoloniale identiteite gevorm word deur onderhandeling en vertaling, Hall se teorie dat kulturele identiteit gebaseer is op verskille en diskontinuiteite eerder as op enersheid, De Kock se beeld van 'n 'kulturele naat' waar wydlopende kulture saamkom en verskille en ooreenkomste 'saamgestik' word, Nuttall se siening van kulturele verstrengeling en Clingman se siening van 'n oorganklike sintaksis van die self--word gebruik om te onthul hoe die vorming asook skending van jong Suid-Afrikaners deur inheemse kulturele instellings voorgestel word in hedendaagse prosa. As voorbeelde dien Adam Ashforth se boek, Madumo, oor geloof in toordery, Russell Kaschula en Gcina Mhlope se kortverhale, 'Six teaspoons of sweetness' en 'Nokulunga's wedding', wat handel oor ukuthwala [Xhosa vroueroof] en Thando Mgqolozana se roman, A man who is not a man, oor die nagevolge van 'n verknoeide tradisionele besnyding. Die artikel voer aan dat verbeeldingryke selfrefleksie deur jongmense oor die kulture waardeur hulle gevorm--en misvorm--is, 'n blyk van die volwassewording van 'n postkoloniale en postapartheid letterkunde is.

Introduction

The multicultural South African context

An important part of the postcolonial project--and in the case of South Africa, the post-apartheid project--is to recover precolonial and pre-apartheid cultural traditions and practices and to promote indigenous knowledge systems. Chapter One, Section 6.1 of the South African Constitution (Republic of South Africa 1996:1) specifies, amongst its founding provisions, the eleven official languages of the country--Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu--and recognises, in Section 6. …

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