The salient features and developments of South African literature were determined and marked by the events that gave rise to racial segregation and the liberation movement, marked by the Sharpeville massacre in March 1960, by the declaration of a state of emergency, by the tragic events of Soweto, the end of apartheid, the liberation of N. Mandela and his election to the presidency of the Republic. Mass repression, censorship, killings and incarcerations have almost imposed that content and functional aesthetic, a central topic of debate in post- apartheid criticism., which now also has the task of reviewing, with evaluation parameters free from prejudices and conditioning, the entire South African literature, redesigning the uncertain boundaries between document, propaganda and art, and reflecting on perspectives and developments, in a moment in we are witnessing the appropriation by the establishment, of the ideas and ferments that have informed literary production and in particular the black one. The question of an authentic decolonization, also crucial for other African countries, poses even more complex problems to the writers of South Africa due to the country’s multiracial and multilingual character and to the social reality open to more sophisticated, but no less pernicious, forms of division. and fragmentation. The black-white polarization has so far overshadowed the distinction between classes, the real differences between the poor and the privileged regardless of skin color, differences whose composition constitutes the most ambitious challenge of the new South African Republic. Literature, in this phase of transition, can indicate paths, values and ideals, such as to catalyze the collective creative energies necessary for the construction of a decolonized, interethnic, multilingual country, which feels the fascination of composing and possibly enhancing its lacerating but vital diversity. In this perspective, the distinction between black literature and white literature assumes a merely informative and contextualizing value, limited to the period of apartheid, after which the noblest goal to strive for is a literature of all and for all South Africans. N. Gordimer, in the conference held for the award of the Nobel, supported, with far-sighted arguments, the need for an alternative vision, but free from prescriptions, coercions and dogmatism. A very important reference in light of the lively debate and the new aesthetic perspectives that animate the South African literary panorama and the pages of the prestigious periodical Staffrider, which in its editorial committee includes, in addition to Gordimer, authors of great value such as NS Ndebele, M. Serote, K. Sole, A. Dangor, C. van Wyk.
Poetry constitutes the earliest form of South African literary expression. T. Pringle (1789-1834), author of Ephemerides (1828) and African sketches (1834), was among the pioneers of a group of poets who introduced the structures, forms and modules of Western poetry into the literary panorama of South Africa. With the twentieth century original poets emerge, such as FC Slater (1876-1958), author of an important anthology, A centenary book of South African verse (1925), which documents the initial phase of South African poetry; and R. Campbell (1901-1957), W. Plomer (1903-1973), G. Butler (b.1918), R. Miller (1919-1969): their verses focus on the impact with the extraordinary landscape, the customs, the myths, the rites, the dances, the sometimes superficial attitude of the colonizers, with sober and elegant language and stylistic variety. For South Africa 1998, please check constructmaterials.com.
Despite having played a very important role in the genesis of fiction, the short story did not experience the novel’s critical fortune, especially internationally. Its development follows a course parallel to that of black poetry, which finds its ideal place in the local press, thanks to its brevity and its links with the oral and indigenous tradition. It should also be borne in mind, as Mphahlele points out (The African literature, 1962), that the racial situation of South Africa has conditioned black writers, forcing them to focus on short fiction, and has made it extremely difficult to gather the mental and emotional energies necessary for the composition of a novel or a play. The tradition of the short story black was inaugurated at the end of the 1920s by RRR Dhlomo. The life of the mine, based on his direct experience, the merciless exploitation of the miners, the physical and psychological harassment, are painted in tones even more authentic than those of the most famous novel Mine boy by Abrahams. The dignity of begging (1951) by B. Modisane, who grew up in the slums of Sophiatown, is a firm denunciation of how justice is also part of the system and constitutes a prop of apartheid. C. Themba, in The urchin, offers a subtle and insightful portrait of life in a city like Sophiatown. One of Drum’s most prolific authorsit is A. Maimane (b. 1932), who describes the rampant juvenile delinquency in urban ghettos. C. Motsisi (1934-1977) stands out (Casey and Co, published posthumously in 1978) for the penetrating analysis of the dramas that have as their background street life and senseless violence between blacks, in an English enlivened by patois. More purely political topics are treated by R. Rive (Africa songs, 1963), J. Matthews (b.1929), who takes the opportunity to denounce the lacerating effects of the Separate amenities act, A. La Guma (Tattoo marks and nails), which presents the prison as a microcosm of life in South Africa. MV Mzamane (b.1948), with The children of Soweto: A trilogy (1982), highlights the distortions of the tragic events of June 16, 1976 by the regime.
The developments of the theater are characterized by specific problems due to the limits created by apartheid, which for a long time also prevented the presence of a mixed audience, and by the particular virulence of censorship. HIE Dhlomo is the first black modern playwright. In his plays (The girl who killed to save: Nonquase the liberator, 1936) the exploration of the tribal past becomes a formidable tool for analyzing the attitudes and social structures of his time. A. Fugard (b.1932) exemplifies with his first experiments (No-good friday, 1958, and Nongogo, 1959, published only in 1977) the conditions of improvisation and luck, but also of great creativity in South African theater. One of his best known plays, Sizwe Bansi is dead (1972), after a difficult tour in the South Africa, enjoyed flattering successes in England, the United States and Australia. With A place with the pigs (1988) the denunciation of the regime becomes less corrosive and is colored with autobiographical tones. G. Kente (Too late, 1975) is the most interesting personality of the Township Theater. The South Africa boasts major centers, events (the Market Theater in Johannesburg, the Grahamstown Festival) and theater companies, including the Serpent Players by Fugard. Its vitality is testified by a host of authors such as G. Butler, Take root or die (1970), and Richard Gosh of Salem (1982); D. Livingstone, A rhino for the boardroom (1977), The sea my windingsheet (1978); M. Matshoba (b.1950), Seeds of war (1981); M. Manaka (b.1956), Egoli (1980) and Rula (1986); P. and K. Shah, Sponono (1983); Nkosi (Rhytm of violence, 1964); P. Mtwa, M. Ngema and B. Simon (Woza Albert!, 1983); A. Buckland (The ugly Noonoo, 1988), playwrights who staged the endemic oppression of blacks, the coercive nature of the regime, the physical and psychological violence perpetrated against these authentic ” damned of the earth ”.