Original Research

The war poems of Mongane Serote: The Night Keeps Winking and A Tough Tale

D. M. Hlabane
Literator | Vol 21, No 3 | a500 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v21i3.500 | © 2000 D. M. Hlabane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 April 2000 | Published: 26 April 2000

About the author(s)

D. M. Hlabane, Department of the Secretariat, Vista University, Central Campus, Pretoria, South Africa

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For many South Africans who saw themselves as victims of a racist society, the twentieth century was a period of one hundred years of political turmoil and segregation. Representations of racism and the kinds of subjects it created were provided by various writers during specific historical periods. I consider the 1980s as a period in which the political conflict between the repressive white state and those who wanted change was largely undertaken through violence. This article therefore looks at the depiction of violence in Mongane Serote’s poems of the 1980s - The Night Keeps Winking (1982) and A Tough Tale (1987). As its title suggests, the article analyses these poems as “war poems”. It focuses on the political themes Serote develops in the poems. The Night Keeps Winking (1982) and A Tough Tale (1987) offer horrifying images of war and the senseless bloodletting characteristic of South African life in the 1980s. These poems, as the article will show, reveal how people's lives were damaged by the apartheid state to the extent that many people resorted to violence as a method of liberation.


Liberation Struggle; Resistance Poetry; Serote; A Tough Tale; The Night Keeps Winking; Serote’s Poems Of The 1980s; War Poems


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Crossref Citations

1. South African War Poetry of the Twentieth Century: Poetic Bodies Flexing “Muscular Demonstrations”
Gerhard Genis
Scrutiny2  vol: 26  issue: 2-3  first page: 1  year: 2021  
doi: 10.1080/18125441.2022.2124444