By Christopher Heywood
Christopher Heywood surveys consultant South African poems, performs and prose works in 5 literary traditions: Khoisan, Nguni-Sotho, Afrikaans, English, and Indian. Heywood's choices comprise over a hundred authors and chosen works--covering poetry, theater and prose. Explored within the context of crises resulting in the formation of contemporary South Africa, South African literature emerges from this research as one of many nice literatures of the trendy international.
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Extra info for A History of South African Literature
In the Bushman belief system, death and immortality are inseparable, since the dying moon leads to the full moon’s brilliance. The belief appears in other systems, for example in the Christian calendar’s dating of Easter and resurrection by the full moon. Expressed in narrative form, the belief was that the creator sent the chameleon to announce to men that they were immortal, but, being a slow animal, it dawdled and was outstripped by the hare, who brought the message that men must die. Ever since, the disgraced hare has crept close to the ground.
404–33). Nanni’s performances include the frequently anthologised song or hymn to the young moon as the emblem of immortality and the sun as the source of life. His phrases include an invocation to the sun and moon, and to a sacred meal that guarantees immortality: ‘Young Moon! / Tell me of something. / Hail, hail! / When the sun rises, / Thou must speak to me, / That I may eat something’ (Bleek, pp. 414–15). Nanni’s song invokes the ancient creed that attributed to the moon the power to return to life after death.
Another main event in the formation of modern South Africa was the war of 1899–1902 (Anglo-Boer war), which left the country destitute and exposed to attempts to dominate South African society by imperial and English language interests. It had been waged ostensibly to guarantee civil rights to the uitlanders or mainly anglophone foreigners who formed the mushrooming Johannesburg mining community, and in practice to secure British investment supremacy in the profitable mining economy of southern Africa.