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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.
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.
Who is Zakes Mda really? And how did he achieve recognition in so many creative spheres? Sometimes There Is a Void, a disarmingly candid account of the life of Zakes Mda, provides us with some answers.
In this memoir, Zakes weaves together past and present to give an intensely personal story of his development in life, as an artist, musician, film maker and beekeeper, and the events and people who shaped him. Forced to follow his father into exile in Lesotho at fourteen, Zakes becomes an exponent of fast living, frequenting shebeens to escape the confines of parental discipline. He involves himself in politics during his exile, and we see the ANC and PAC as they grow. We also witness the development of his musical and artistic talents from an early age, a little ahead of his literary gifts. Zakes eventually obtains two master's degrees from Ohio University and a PhD from UCT, and writes his first novel in 1993. Based in Athens, Ohio, he works as a professor of Creative Writing at Ohio University.
His contribution to South Africa's social and cultural advancement remains undiminished, both in his humanitarian efforts and his active involvement in the development of indigenous theatre through his work with local playwrights.
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.
This collection of three plays and one cine poem captures the essence of Zakes Mda's method as a dramatist. Included is the story of two women who meet during a long wait to buy subsidized rice and discover they have more in common than their poverty.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Zakes Mda is the most acclaimed South African writer of the
independence era. His eight novels tell stories that venture far
beyond the conventional narratives of a people's struggle against
apartheid. In this memoir, he tells the story of a life that
intersects with the political life of his country but that at its
heart is the classic adventure story of an artist, lover, father,
teacher, and bon vivant.
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.
All the plays in Mda's new collection were written after the unbanning of the ANC in South Africa. Mother of All Eating (1992) is a one-hander. The play has the Man, its un-named protagonist, as a Lesothan official who has 'eaten' (his sardonic word for corruption) incessantly in the years preceding the time of the play. Our Man gets his dreadful come-uppance and has to become human before we leave him, covered in real grief and terror. You Fool, How Can the Sky Fall? (1994) is an unbridled study in grotesquerie. On stage in a surreal prison kept by some monstrous force that takes one of them out for torture every now and then is a complete Cabinet, a President and ministers of Health, Justice, Culture, Agriculture etc. The dialogue reflects a belief, traceable throughout Mda's work, that government by those who inherit a revolution is almost inevitably, in the first decade or two, hi-jacked by the smart operators. In The Bells of Amersfoort (2001) the Afrikaner man, who was the oppressor and torturer in the old South Africa, becomes the key element in the rebuilding of the country. Central to the play is a woman trombonist, a black, sexy alcoholic who loathes the bells and food of Amsterdam and the secular sanctimony of her white Dutch supporters, whom she blames, as blood relatives of the Afrikaners, for apartheid. Her boyfriend is the familiar figure of the South-African-black-comrade-become-parliamentarian-become-womanizing-corrupt-scumbag. When the former 'comrade' decides to take the route of unbridled accumulation of wealth, the black woman and the Afrikaner man go to 'heal the land'. Zakes Mda's best playwriting is unavoidably provocative. In this collection, as in the earlier plays, one is only some of the time quite sure what is being satirised.
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.
Winner of the M-Net Book Prize
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.
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.
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.
Two very different women meet during a long wait to buy subsidized rice and discover they have more in common than their poverty; an old man and a child share a last loving waltz; a cynical, disabled gangster learns humanity from a committed social worker, and a young girl finds her missing father and her role in the political struggle. This collection of stage plays, one radio play and a cinepoem, captures the essence of Zakes Mda's method as a dramatist- a slow but intimate process of revelation (on the part of the characters). It is an artistic cooperation of the most pleasurable kind.
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.
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
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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