Original Research

Young South Africans and cultural (mal)practice: Breaking the silence in recent writing

Johan U. Jacobs
Literator | Vol 34, No 1 | a33 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v34i1.33 | © 2013 Johan U. Jacobs | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 July 2012 | Published: 22 April 2013

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Johan U. Jacobs, English Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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This article considered the literary representation of young South Africans coming of age within a post-apartheid, multicultural context and forging for themselves a modern identity across a divide between, and also within, cultures. They identify themselves with the global West, but also subscribe to indigenous African values, whilst recognising how they themselves have been damaged by corrupted cultural practices. Postcolonial theories of identity-formation – Said’s argument that post-imperial cultures are all hybrid and heterogeneous, Bhabha’s interstitial ‘third space’ where postcolonial identities are produced through processes of negotiation and translation, Hall’s theory that cultural identity is based on differences and discontinuities rather than on fixed essences, De Kock’s notion of a ‘cultural seam’ or site where cultures both differ and converge and difference and sameness are sutured together, Nuttall’s notion of entanglement, and Clingman’s theory of the transitive self – are used for understanding how young South Africans are shown in recent writing as having been shaped by traditional cultural practices and also damaged by cultural malpractices. Texts chosen for discussion are Adam Ashforth’s Madumo, about witchcraft, Russell Kaschula’s short story,‘Six teaspoons of sweetness’ and Gcina Mhlope’s short story, ‘Nokulunga’s wedding’, both of which deal with ukuthwala [forced marriage abduction] and, finally, Thando Mgqolozana’s novel, A man who is not a man, which deals with the consequences of a botched traditional circumcision. The article argued that self-reflexive critical and imaginative engagement by young people with the cultures that have formed – and deformed – them is a mark of the true coming-of-age of postcolonial and post-apartheid writing.


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Crossref Citations

1. Michiel Heyns’s Lost Ground: The white man’s sense of identity and place in a decolonised Africa and a democratic South Africa
Renate Lenz
Literator  vol: 38  issue: 1  year: 2017  
doi: 10.4102/lit.v38i1.1329