'Letters ... in the Thick of Affairs': The Place of Fiction in Africa South, 1957-61 (Essay)
Transformation 2009, May, 70
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Introduction Africa South was founded, as its editor Ronald Segal says, to provide 'an international forum for study and discussion of the problems of Africa, in particular those agitating that part south of the Sahara [and] ... to help build Africa anew in the image of justice' (Segal 1956:12). (1) Besides the socio political and economic analysis and advocacy of change that therefore dominated its pages, the magazine published cultural debate, short stories, poetry and satire. The question asked here is what a pursuit of cultural debate and the publishing of fiction could bring to readers amidst the magazine's urgent and militant focus on socio-political fact and opinion. The proponents of cultural debate in Africa South tended to provide vigorous justifications for their undertaking, and so, in taking up the first part of the question, I will gather the claims of Basil Davidson and others that their project of establishing Africa's long and complex human history was a vital counter to colonialism's die-hard assumptions that Africa was a social and cultural void. The writers of short stories and poetry, on the other hand, left it to readers and critics to arrive at justifications of their work. Therefore, in taking up the second part of the question, I will offer a demonstration of my claims for 'fiction' in the context of Africa South through stories by now famous writers such as Ezekiel Mphahlele and Alan Paton, and by now forgotten writers such as Tony O'Dowd and Noel Frieslich.
- Category: Social Science
- Published: 01 May 2009
- Publisher: Transformation
- Print Length: 37 Pages
- Language: English