Original Research

Vilifying apartheid perpetrators through narrative devices

Dzunisani Sibuyi
Literator | Vol 45, No 1 | a1970 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v45i1.1970 | © 2024 Dzunisani Sibuyi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 October 2022 | Published: 29 February 2024

About the author(s)

Dzunisani Sibuyi, Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature, Faculty of Arts, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Mandla Langa’s debut novel, Tenderness of Blood, received no critical review compared with his later works of fiction. To close this gap, I will provide critical analysis focussing on Langa’s use of narrative devices that function to generate meaning focussed on specific issues, themes, and topics vilifying apartheid perpetrators, which has been interpreted as Langa’s chosen means of overthrowing apartheid. These devices will be drawn from Gérard Genette’s Narrative Discourse and Narrative Discourse Revisited along with Mikhail Bakhtin’s narrative theories of the Dialogic Imagination. This entails narrational strategies of the extradiegetic and intradiegetic, respectively, deployed by the anonymous third-person narrator and Mkhonto, the protagonist. These strategies render the text as a multi-voiced polyphonic narrative that aims to accentuate the plight of Mkhonto in his opposition to South Africa’s apartheid injustices from two different and complementary narrative perspectives. In addition to the narrational strategies, there is an employment of devices such as times of narration in simultaneous, subsequent, and interpolated narration, which enable the situating of the story in time of its ‘presentness’ and moments of the action.

Contribution: This article highlights the plight of, and challenges experienced by the characters, and is helpful in generating sympathy for the events, especially for Mkhonto and his people in the struggle to overthrow apartheid.


narrational strategies; time(s) of the narration; narrating voice; dialogism; sympathy; Gérard Genette; Mandla Langa; Mikhail Bakhtin; apartheid.


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