Original Research

Kaka country: An intertextual reading of national dysfunction in Bulawayo’s We Need New Names and Jinga’s One Foreigner’s Ordeal

Esther Mavengano, Muchativugwa L. Hove
Literator | Vol 40, No 1 | a1595 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v40i1.1595 | © 2019 Esther Mavengano, Muchativugwa L. Hove | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 February 2019 | Published: 31 July 2019

About the author(s)

Esther Mavengano, Department of English and Media Studies, Great Zimbabwe University, Masvingo, Zimbabwe
Muchativugwa L. Hove, School for Languages Education, North-West University, Mafikeng, South Africa


Reading fictional narratives is a complex process that has been a preoccupation of scholars and critics in linguistics and literary criticism since Plato and Aristotle. The contention that texts are constructed (and reconstructed) through a network of prior and concurrent discourses problematises the view that a text functions as a hermetic, self-sufficient, closed system. This article examines selected Zimbabwean fictional narratives that are Bulawayo’s We Need New Names and Jinga’s One Foreigner’s Ordeal focusing on how the texts speak to each other and reconfigure the African literary canon. The article draws from post-structuralist, Julia Kristeva’s intertextuality theory in order to interrogate stylistic and thematic (re)configurations in the selected novels. Close textual analysis shows that the act of reading plunges the reader into a maze of textual relations and meanings that emerge from this never-ending interaction. Intertextuality is an insightful and essential interpretive framework that draws our attention to the complexities and multiplicities of discourses in fictional narratives. The framework points to the complex matrix of textual relations that oppose the fixation of meanings but rather suggests an infinite range of interpretations. This brings into sharp focus and conversation the question of the author’s intentionality, the need for critical evaluation of textual interactions and the role of the reader in the production of meanings. Intertextuality engenders new horizons of reading and understanding literary texts by generating multiple sites of textual meanings. In other words, intertextuality theory posits that the textual interpretative trajectory is inconclusive, calling on readers to explore the textual entanglement and dialogic selves which facilitate a (re)discovering and (re)constructing of ambivalence and negotiation of meanings.


Intertextuality; Kaka; Post-Structuralism; Style; Canon; Dysfunction.


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