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Infused with rhythm and melody, Zakes Mda’s new novel invites you to travel from Lesotho’s Mountain Kingdom to the City of Gold through the history of famo.
Famo music was born in the drinking dens of migrant mineworkers in Lesotho, where the men would sing to unwind after work, accompanied by the accordion, a drum and sometimes a bass. Meet the boy-child Kheleke, a wandering musician, and his surprising sister Moliehi. Then sigh with pleasure at being reunited with Toloki, the professional mourner from Ways of Dying, and his beloved Noria.
Passionate and ambitious, Kheleke is a weaver of songs, and his own story is intertwined with the incredible yet true social history of the music: the Time of the Concertina and the Accordion, the wars of the famo gangs, and the battle for control of illegal mines.
The end is always a journey – and what a journey this is!
Drawing on the true history of ‘Farini’s Friendly Zulus’, a group of men who were taken to Britain and then to America as performing curiosities, the novel opens in 1885 in wintry New York City.
The protagonist, Mpiyezintombi, simply called Em-Pee by the English-speakers, loses more than his name in this far-off foreign country; he is seen as little more than a freak-show act – though he is not kept in a cage like the beautiful Dinka Princess, with her gold-painted papier-mâché crown and fur cape. For EmPee, it is love at first sight, but the caged woman is not free to love anyone back: she is the property of Monsieur Duval, proprietor of Duval Ethnological Expositions.
And so begins one of Zakes Mda’s most striking stories, one that depicts terrible historical injustices and indignities, while at the same time celebrating the vigour and ingenuity of the creative spirit, and the transformative power of love.
In an already-great pantheon of Mda love stories and classic gems, this may be his most powerful work yet.
Kristin Uys is a tough Roodepoort magistrate who lives alone with her cat. She is on a one-woman crusade to wipe out prostitution in the town for reasons that have personal significance for her. Although she is unable to convict the Visagie Brothers, Stevo and Shortie, on charges of running a brothel, she manages to nail Stevo for contempt of court and gives him a summary six-month sentence.
From Diepkloof Prison, the outraged Stevo orchestrates his revenge against the magistrate, aided and abetted by his rather inept brother Shortie and his erstwhile nanny, Aunt Magda, who believes mass action will force the powers that be to release Stevo.
Kristin receives menacing phone calls and her home is invaded and vandalised. Even her cat is threatened. The chief magistrate insists on assigning a bodyguard to protect her. To Kristin’s consternation, security guard Don Mateza moves into her home and trails her everywhere. Nor does this suit Don’s long-time girlfriend Tumi, former model and successful businesswoman, who is intent on turning Don into a Black Diamond sooner rather than later. And Don soon finds that his new assignment has unexpected complications which Tumi simply does not understand.
In Black Diamond, Zakes Mda tackles every conceivable South African stereotype, skilfully (and with the lightest touch) turning them upside down and exposing their ironies, often hilariously. This is a clever, quirky novel that captures the essence of contemporary life in Gauteng and will resonate with all South Africans.
It is 1903. A lame and frail Malangana – 'Little Suns' – searches for his beloved Mthwakazi after many lonely years spent in Lesotho. Mthwakazi was the young woman he had fallen in love with twenty years earlier, before the assassination of Hamilton Hope ripped the two of them apart.
Intertwined with Malangana's story, is the account of Hope – a colonial magistrate who, in the late nineteenth century, was undermining the local kingdoms of the eastern Cape in order to bring them under the control of the British. It was he who wanted to coerce Malangana’s king and his people, the amaMpondomise, into joining his battle – a scheme Malangana’s conscience could not allow.
Zakes Mda's fine new novel Little Suns weaves the true events surrounding the death of Magistrate Hope into a touching story of love and perseverance that can transcend exile and strife.
This novel is set in the Free State town of Excelsior from the 1970s to the time of political liberation in the 1990s. In the 1970s Excelsior was notorious for a series of across-the-colour-bar sex scandals involving white men - many of them pillars of the conservative Afrikaner establishment - and black women, some of whom bore mixed-race children as a result. Mda roots his story in this period and carries it through to the social and political revolution of the 1990s. Often lyrical and sensual, and sometimes bleak and shocking, the novel is always an acute and authentic reflector of small-town South Africa and its extraordinary mix of people in the years of high apartheid and in its untidy aftermath.
The setting for this play is a Boer potato farm during the apartheid regime. The labourers, including prison workers, rise up against the “Baas” and his induna, an older black man who is in charge of the workforce. The old man’s life changes through what happens as does that of his wife and daughter. The story is told through the conversation of the induna’s wife and the young man who was to have married the daughter. The rebellion on the farm hints at a far larger con flict looming “up north”, as the young man leaves the farm to go and fight for the freedom and dignity of his people. Zakes Mda wrote the play in 1979 when he was in his early twenties.
The whale caller in his tuxedo, spends his days on the cliffs of the small coastal town of Hermanus blowing his kelp horn to the whales that visit in the summer months. In particular, he blows for Sharisha, a Southern right whale who always responds to his call. With each surfacing of her giant head and each thrashing of her tail, the whale caller's connection to Sharisha deepens. Then Saluni enters his life. Saluni - the feisty village drunk, a passionate but self destructive woman who frequents the tarvens and consorts with passing sailors. She cannot understand nor tolerate his fixation with the whales, and as the relationship between her and the whale caller grows, she finds herself vying with Sharisha for his attention. The tension builds in a devastating climax that has terrible and lasting consequences. With inimitable style and great lyricism, Zakes Mda tells a story that is at once a haunting, love story and a lament for a lost wilderness.
Zakes Mda's satire is a kaleidoscopic display of the extremes to which men (and by implication women) are prepared to go in terms of valuing what is 'virginal'. Mda presents us with the consequences of transgression: that which is seen as polluted and judged to be dangerous to the good health and purity of a group, a society, a culture. Taboos, superstition, customs and moral ethics become the subjects of inquiry and are, at times, subjected to ribald satire. This play cuts into a virtuoso style of theatre that can in no way be confused with the objectives and methods of conventional realism. Mda establishes a unique style and tone that is innovative, entertaining and challenging. It fuses satirical elements derived from classical poetry with a modernist sensibility that synthesises Brechtian and Absurdist features of theatricality, using characters as types and montage. Above all, in this work there is a profound exploration of what it means to operate in the politically charged landscape that defines post-apartheid South Africa with its cultural pluralities and differentials in access to resources and agency. Stylistically adventurous and unafraid to deviate from conventionally accepted norms, Mda is iconoclastic in his handling of the ways in which attitudes to power, superstition, ethics and sex are constructed. The cultural discourse of patriarchy and the 'regime of truths' regarding ideals and taboos defining female sexuality, its obligations, and its custodianship are the focus of this play.
This book is a collection of non-fiction by the prolific author Zakes Mda. It showcases his role as a public intellectual with the inclusion of public lectures, essays and media articles. Mda focuses on South Africa's history and the present, identity and belonging, literary themes, human rights, global warming and why he is unable to keep silent on abuses of power.
A superb new novel by an award-winning author. The background is the Eastern Cape, where in the 1850s, a 16-year-old prophetess, Nongqawuse, instructed the Xhosa nation to kill all their cattle and destroy their crops. She foretold that on an appointed day, the dead would arise, the kraals would be full of cattle, the silos full of fresh grain, and the white colonists and others who did not believe in her would be swept into the sea. Mda weaves a captivating story about a family caught up in the events of the 1850s, and their descendants' continuing feud in the 1990s.
Camugu, recently returned to Johannesburg and disillusioned by the new democracy, moves to the remote Eastern Cape. There, in the nineteenth century, a teenage prophetess commanded the Xhosa people to kill their cattle and burn their crops, promising that the spirits of their ancestors would rise and drive the English into the ocean. The failed prophecy split the people in two, with devastating consequences. One hundred and fifty years later, the two groups’ decendants are at odds over plans to build a vast casino and tourist resort, and Camugu is soon drawn into their heritage and their future—and into a bizarre love triangle as well.
It is 1903. A lame and frail Malangana - 'Little Suns' - searches for his beloved Mthwakazi after many lonely years spent in Lesotho. Mthwakazi was the young woman he had fallen in love with twenty years earlier, before the assassination of Hamilton Hope ripped the two of them apart. Intertwined with Malangana's story, is the account of Hope - a colonial magistrate who, in the late nineteenth century, was undermining the local kingdoms of the eastern Cape in order to bring them under the control of the British. It was he who wanted to coerce Malangana's king and his people, the amaMpondomise, into joining his battle - a scheme Malangana's conscience could not allow. Zakes Mda's fine novel Little Suns weaves the true events surrounding the death of Magistrate Hope into a touching story of love and perseverance that can transcend exile and strife.
In the timeless kingdom of Mapungubwe, the royal sculptor had two sons, Chata and Rendani. As they grew, so grew their rivalry--and their extraordinary talents. But while Rendani became a master carver of the animals that run in the wild hills and lush valleys of the land, Chata learned to carve fantastic beings from his dreams, creatures never before seen on the Earth. From this natural rivalry between brothers, Zakes Mda crafts an irresistibly rich fable of love and family. What makes the better art, perfect mimicry or inspiration? Who makes the better wife, a princess or a mysterious dancer? Ageless and contemporary, deceptive in its simplicity and mythical in its scope, The Sculptors of Mapungubwe encompasses all we know of love, envy, and the artist's primal power to forge art from nature and nature into art. Mda's newest novel will only strengthen his international reputation as one of the most trenchant voices of South Africa.
Novelist Zakes Mda has made a name for himself as a key chronicler of the new, post-apartheid South Africa, casting a satirical eye on its claims of political unity, its rising black middle class, and other aspects of its complicated, multiracial society. In this novel, however, he turns his lens elsewhere: to a college town in Ohio. Here he finds human relations and the battle between the community and the individual no less compelling, or ridiculous. In Athens, Ohio, old high school friends Rachel Boucher and Jason de Klerk reconnect and rekindle a relationship that quickly becomes passionate. Initially, all seems well. Not only the couple, but their friends and family, are happy at this unexpected conjunction. But then Rachel meets someone else. Jason's anger boils over into violence--violence that turns the community on its head, pitting friends and neighbors against one another. And all this happens before Rachel realizes she's pregnant. A powerful, piercing satire of contemporary life, love, and society, Rachel's Blue is a wonderful example of the social novel, surprising us with undeniable revelations about everyday life.
As Zakes Mda's fifth novel opens, the seaside village of Hermanus
is overrun with whale-watchers--foreign tourists determined to see
whales in their natural habitat. But when the tourists have gone
home, the whale caller lingers at the shoreline, wooing a whale he
has named Sharisha with cries from a kelp horn. When Sharisha fails
to appear for weeks on end, the whale caller frets like a jealous
lover--oblivious to the fact that the town drunk, Saluni, a woman
who wears a silk dress and red stiletto heels, is infatuated with
The background is the notorious 1971 case in which nineteen citizens of Excelsior in the Free State were charged with breaking apartheid's Immorality Act, which forbade sex between black and white. In an extraordinary alchemy of words into art, Mda tells the story of a family at the heart of the scandal ? of Niki, the fallen madonna, Popi, her daughter by an eminent white citizen of the town, and Viliki, the betrayed son, and of how they come to terms with the repercussions and find resolution in surprising ways.
By turns earthy, witty and tragic, this energetic novel deftly handles issues of racial identity, rape and revenge. It is also a brilliantly observed study of the inner workings of small-town South Africa, and the changes rural communities have undergone.
Amagama Enkululeko - Words For Freedom: Writing Life Under Apartheid is an anthology of short fiction, poetry, narrative journalism and extracts from novels and memoirs which frames local literature as a lens through which to engage with South Africa’s past. The collection was put together and edited by Equal Education.
With a foreword by Zakes Mda, and a mixture of famous and seemingly forgotten struggle writers, this anthology of poetry and prose opens a window onto the ways ordinary, everyday life was shaped by the forces of history.
An acclaimed novel by a leading South African author. It is the story of a professional mourner, whose odyssey takes him from a rural village to the outskirts of a contemporary South African city. It is magical, harsh, and funny. The style of writing is new and exciting, using transliteration for example.
In this novel by celebrated South African writer Zakes Mda, Kristin
Uys, a tough magistrate who lives alone with her cat in the
Roodepoort district of Johannesburg, goes on a one-woman crusade to
wipe out prostitution in her town. Her reasons are personal, and
her zeal is fierce. Her main targets are the Visagie Brothers,
Stevo and Shortie, who run a brothel, and although she fails to
take down the entire establishment, she manages to nail Stevo for
contempt of court, serving him a six-month sentence. From Diepkloof
Prison, the outraged Stevo orchestrates his revenge against the
magistrate, aided and abetted by the rather inept Shortie and his
former nanny, Aunt Magda.
A "New York Times" Notable Book of the Year
"The most acclaimed South African writer of his generation, Zakes Mda eight novels venture far beyond the conventional narratives of a people's struggle against apartheid. In this memoir, he tells of a life that intersects with the politics of his country--a story that is, at its heart, the classic adventure of an artist, lover, and bon vivant. Living in exile with his father in Basutoland (now Lesotho) during the first pangs of his country's independence, a series of brutal and poignant initiations ushered him toward the life of a writer--and that of a perpetual outsider. Through the indignity of Boer racism, the turmoil of the Soweto uprisings, not to mention three marriages and his eventual immigration to America, Mda struggled to remain his own man. With "Sometimes There Is a Void," he shows that independence opened the way for the stories of individual South Africans in all their variety.
Joint winner of Best Non-Fiction Biography, Humanities and Social Sciences Awards 2020 Sol Plaatje's Mhudi is the first full-length novel in English to have been written by a black South African and is widely regarded as one of Africa's most important literary works. Drawing upon both oral and literary traditions, Plaatje uses the form of the historical novel, and romance genre, to explore the 19th-century dispossession of his people, to provide a novel black perspective on their history. It is a book that speaks to present-day concerns, to do with land, language, history and decolonisation. Today the novel has iconic status, not only in South Africa, but worldwide - it has been translated into a number of languages - and its impact on other writers has been profound. The novelist Bessie Head described it as "more than a classic; there is just no other book on earth like it. All the stature and grandeur of the author are in it." A century after its writing in London in 1920 [it was published in South Africa in 1930, for reasons explained in the book], and at a time of intellectual ferment, with debates on decolonisation to the fore, in popular culture as much as in the academy, this book celebrates Mhudi's place in African literature, reviews its critical reception, and offers fresh perspectives. The contributors discuss Mhudis genesis, writing and publication; its reception by literary critics from the 1930s to thepresent; Mhudi as a feminist novel; Mhudis use of oral tradition; issues of translation; Mhudi in the context of African literature and history, and the decolonisation of the curriculum. An authoritative listing of all editions of Mhudi, translations as well as in English completes the book. SABATA MOKAE is a novelist and lecturer in creative writing at Sol Plaatje University, Kimberley, and the author of The Story of Sol T. Plaatje (2010). BRIAN WILLAN is Senior Research Fellow at Rhodes University, Extraordinary Professor at Sol Plaatje and North West Universities. He is the author of Sol Plaatje: a life of Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje,1876-1932 (2018), and co-editor (with Janet Remmington and Bheki Peterson) of Sol Plaatje's Native Life in South Africa: Past and Present (2016). Africa: Jacana
Winner of the M-Net Book Prize
In a remote mountain village in Lesotho, the beautiful Dikosha
lives for dancing and for song, setting herself apart from her
fellow villagers. Her twin brother, Radisene, works in the lowland
capital of Maseru, struggling amid political upheaval to find a
life for himself away from the hills. As the years pass, Radisene's
fortunes rise and fall in the city, while Dikosha remains in the
village, never leaving and never aging. And through it all, the
community watches, comments, and passes judgment.
This volume comprises five one-act-plays, namely; 'The dead end' (1979), 'We shall sing for the fatherland' (1979), 'Dark voices ring' (1979), 'The hill' (1980), and 'The road' (1982). The volumes, showcasing one of southern Africa's best-known playwrights, are ideal for teaching purposes. This translation is in the African language SiSwati
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