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One of the chief challenges facing by the writers of Post Apartheid period has
been the need to produce literature which is capable to produce the work through the losses of
Apartheid and the struggle. The road which took forward the work of Post Apartheid is Race,
and the resistance question of racialisation. Also, with the change in the political codes, the
writers have adapted to write a new form of writing which deals with the social and cultural
problems. But, still today also we find that many of writers are facing the difficulty of
reestablishing oneself, with reference of Mda. In this study of literary representation of women
are examined in order to evaluate the effects of social and cultural transformation in post-
apartheid South Africa. With the study of historical and political events and with the reference
work of J.M.Coetzee, describes the personal crises of a man who is problemized by South
African shifiting. Also, Nobantu Rasebotsa, Dhaswane Mpe, etc one can understand how the
literary work is affected not only in South Africa but also all over the world.


South Africa is a country of great physical beauty but its soul is dead, strangulated by an
ideology based on color where to be white enable you to enjoy the goodness of the land and if
black, you would be better off dead. The whites of South Africa are afflicted with a sickness that
blinds them to the suffering of the rest of us, blacks.
- James Matthews (1972).

The study of historical, political events of the years through literature which immediately
took after apartheid and how this moment affected not only the social life, but also the literature
was the most different experience for South Africans and also for the whole world.
In looking back at development of literature especially of the South African literature,
since the transition and also looking ahead in order to consider the present and future challenges
in this area, it is necessary to start putting forward the questions which would be concerned with
the relationship between the current South African writing (post-apartheid) and the apartheid.
Also, the question can be raised as to why this literature is considered for the inquiry, must
consider it is the extent to which apartheid still dominates in South African literature.
The most notorious political fact of South African history is the apartheid. The term
comes from the Afrikaans apart heid (to be apart). Apartheid was a system of racial segregation
which was forced by the National Party government of South Africans between 1948-1994,
under which the rights of majority of non-white inhabitants of South Africans were curtailed and
white supremacy and the Afrikaner minority was maintained. This code was developed after
World War-II. Though this rule began in colonial times, but as an official policy was introduced
following the general elections of 1948. Because of this the black people were deprived of their
citizenship and the government segregated education, medical care, beaches, and other public
services providing superiority status to white. In 1990, President Frederik William de Klerk,
began the negotiation to end up apartheid, putting forward multiracial democratic election which
was won by Nelson Mandela, member of African National Congress. But, even after this the
traces of apartheid can be seen to still shape African politics and the society.
During the final years of the apartheid era and the transition to democracy, South African
literature became prominent throughout the world. Writers satirized the state enforced racism.
As, the apartheid was over writers were questioning the conceptions of reconciliation and
rebuilding. The work of post apartheid literature was the work by South African author both
black and white in the last decade of 20
century. The apartheid did dominate imaginative
writing also. The authors such as Nadine Gordimer, J.M.Coetzee, Athol Fugard and Andre Brink
played a major role in bringing the worlds attention to the unjust rule through their literary
Though still the writers were mainly concerned with the writings of the racial and
political issues, but as the wind of change blew all over South African society and it brought the
sudden transformation in law and attitude to everyday life. This created a new emergence of
writing which involved the contemporary issues such as violence, crime, homosexuality, spread
of AIDS virus etc. the author also paid attention to poverty, unemployment, western influence
materialism, sociocultural changes in South African population. So, the key element of
classification of South African literature was no longer racial discrimination but the language
and issues used by writers.
The common feature in post apartheid literature was a concern with nation building
projects. Authors explode the possibility of re-assessing passed identities to construct new
identity which was based on transcultural prospective. Looking at these writing projects we find
that every five South African are HIV positive, so the writers on every side of gender and culture
joined hands to use their artistic arena to fight against the epidemic. For example, Nobantu
Rasebotsas; Nobody ever said AIDS, poem and stories from South African (2004). A similar
work which showed apartheid racism replaced by Xenophobia by Dhaswane Mpe in Welcome
to our Hillbrow (2001). The theme of Ecology handled by Zakes Mdas in The Whale color
(2005) and The Heart of Redness are the most newly constructed ideas. The other themes such
as Feminism by Kasigo Lesegos in Dancing in the Dust; Njabulo S.Ndebeles in The Cry of
Winnie Mandela (2003) dominated in this era. The role of women in nation building was
always largely being blank.
The history of South African womens literature by notable feminist explored the lives of
black women in different sociocultural, linguistic and religious manner. In Theorizing the
feminist novel: women and the state of African literature today Rose Ure Mezu, explains that
women actually are seen moving beyond socio-cultural protests against voicelessness and
become aware of the options open to them. This essay by Rose Ure Mezu, provided a broad view
of the geo-linguistic and cultural purviews of A History of Africana Women literature. Gloria
Chuku, presented evaluative and reconstructive survey of the socio-economic and political
activities and traditional women, and their place and participation in economic building and
communal cultural preservation. The story of Yvonne Vera shows the wave of modern
Zimbabwean feminist thoughts.
In the thesis of Stephane Serge Ibinga, titled as The Representation of Women in the
works of Three South African Novelist of the Transition he showed the reason of choosing such
a topic. He says that the women issues should not be the preserve of female critics and writers
only. He also mentions that the male writers should play a role in changing the perception of
women society. Also, mentioned that the criticism focused on the South African women used to
be the political pressure of the apartheid era. In this thesis Stephane Serge Ibinga has choosen ten
different novels of three different authors, to mention them are Zakes Mda, Mandla Langa and
Nadine Gordimer. Which depicts wide range of rural women, the interpretation of novelistic
depiction on womens live to show to what extent images of female character can reflect certain
cultural norms and values. He also pointed out that his analysis and fictional representation of
women in his thesis contributed for the assessment of the changing place of women in
transforming society. His thesis can be observed to show the kind and quality of life style and
social roles available to South African women. This is done by analyzing the authors portrayal
of womens circumstances both in the private and public sphere. Stephane has also tried to
mention female political activism and leadership, and tried to balance the previous preoccupation
in South African English literature with depictions of male political activity.
Similarly, one of the social and personal problem discussed in the novel Disgrace in
1999, by J.M.Coetzee. This novel received Booker Prize and also the Nobel Prize; which
describes the personal crisis of a man whose life is problemised by South African shifting
cultural norms. Even though apartheid was legally ended its legacy still haunted the country and
robbery and vandalism were seen frequently on the country side. Rape was a common
occurrence and the writer brings out this racial tension through his work.
It is also seen that after the writers and artist return to South Africa, after seeking exile
from apartheid they emphasized the difficulty of re-eastablishing their life in culture for different
than the one they originally left. They noted the difficulty between the younger and older
generation of post apartheid writers. For example, Zakes Mda, who spent 35 years outside South
Africa has made a record of the Struggle of South African citizen as well as expatriates in
adjusting to the wealth of social changes in post apartheid society. Thus, though the racial
injustice remained the strong theme in post apartheid literature, critics identified a growing trend
towards more personal and universal narrative by post apartheid writers.
This showed that despite of long history of racial segregation, race is less and less the
principle preoccupation of todays writer. By dealing with the present social issues, writers
attempt to go beyond the range and express race in order to construct a new national identity that
promotes the countrys cultural diversity. Thus, post apartheid literature became a crucial site not
simply for the recovery of communal traditions of remembrance, but also for reinvention of
memorial practices and thus reinvention of new community.

1. Ibingo Stephane, Serga. Post Apartheid literature Beyond Race. This century review:
Copy right 2006-2010.
2. Ibingo Stephane, Serga. The Representation of Women in the works of three South
African Novelists of the transition. bitstream/handle.
3. Durrant, Sam. The invention of Mourning in Post-Apartheid literature. Third world
quarterly, vol. 26, no. 3, Connecting Cultures, 2005.
4. Post apartheid literature criticism.
5. Roodt, Dan. South African literature II: Post-apartheid literature. myfundi.
6. Graham, Shane. The Truth Commission and Post-apartheid literature in South Africa.
Research in African literatures: Copyright 2003.
7. Cengage, Gale. Contemporary literary Criticism. Copyright 2004.
8. Mezu Rose, Ure. A History of Africana Womens literature. Baltimore: Black Academy
Press, 2004. ( www.nathaniel