Original Research

Mostly ‘black’ and ‘white’: ‘Race’, complicity and restitution in the non-fiction of Antjie Krog

Jacomien van Niekerk
Literator | Vol 37, No 1 | a1264 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v37i1.1264 | © 2016 Jacomien van Niekerk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 November 2015 | Published: 24 August 2016

About the author(s)

Jacomien van Niekerk, Department of Afrikaans, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article analyses the role of ‘race’ in Antjie Krog’s non-fiction trilogy Country of My Skull (1998), A Change of Tongue (2003) and Begging to Be Black (2009). It explores her explicit use of terms such as ‘heart of whiteness’ and ‘heart of blackness’. Claims that Krog essentialises Africa and ‘black’ people are investigated. The article also addresses accusations of racism in Krog’s work. A partial answer to the persistent question of why Krog is so determinedly focused on ‘race’ is sought in the concept of complicity. There is definite specificity in the way Krog writes about ‘white’ perpetrators and ‘black’ victims in South Africa, but her trilogy should be read within the broader context of international restitution discourses, allowing for a somewhat different perspective on her contribution to the discussion of the issue of whether ‘white’ people belong in (South) Africa.


Antjie Krog; race; blackness; whiteness; complicity; restitution


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Crossref Citations

1. Guilt, shame and the politics of moral change in Antjie Krog’s and Zoë Wicomb’s literary responses to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Kai Wiegandt
Journal of Postcolonial Writing  vol: 53  issue: 4  first page: 440  year: 2017  
doi: 10.1080/17449855.2017.1292405