South African writing: Damon Galgut, Lebo Mashile, and Kaaps
This week on The Cultural Frontline, Tumi Morake looks at writing from her country, South Africa – focussing on fiction, poetry, and language reflecting the country’s history, politics, social make-up, and identity.
Multi-award-winning author Damon Galgut’s latest novel, The Promise, is his third to be nominated for the Booker Prize, and is in the final running. Set during South Africa’s transition from apartheid, it explores its legacy through the decline of a white farming family, whose promise to their black maid - to give her the house she lives in - remains unfulfilled, as we follow them from the height of apartheid to the present day.
Lebo Mashile is an acclaimed poet, actress and writer. It’s been a tough year in South Africa – with the pandemic, political scandal, and violent civil unrest – but Lebo uses her poetry to try to make sense of what’s happening in the world. She’s been performing at the recent Poetry Africa international festival at the University of KwaZulu Natal, and spoke to reporter Mpho Lakaje about tackling big issues in her work.
Plus, how a new dictionary - with the help of hip hop - can overcome inequality. The South African Kaaps language is commonly used by working class people, however speakers can be negatively stereotyped and suffer discrimination. Now a new Dictionary of Kaaps - in Kaaps, English, and Afrikaans - is being launched by the University of the Western Cape and a hip hop charity, Heal The Hood. Shaquile Southgate of the charity explains the difference he hopes the dictionary will make.
And South African actor, activist, and playwright Dr John Kani. In spring 2020 he was in London performing in his new play, Kunene And The King, when the pandemic sadly brought it to a close. He speaks about the art that lifted his spirits in lockdown, and his love for the jazz of Hugh Masekela.
Presented by Tumi Morake
Produced by Emma Wallace, Mpho Lakaje, Mugabi Turya and Jack Thomason
(Photo: Damon Galgut)