As South Africa’s universities burn with yet another generation being forced to confront the institutional malaise of a neglectful government, this week’s editorial defers to literature. Consider it a conceptual trip through time whose aim is to bring us all the way back to the wobbly present, where we, as a nation, struggle to imagine ourselves anew.
“Men make their own history but not of their own free will; not under circumstances they themselves have chosen but under the given and inherited circumstances with which they are directly confronted. The tradition of the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the minds of the living”.
K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works: the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (Moscow, Progress Press, 1991), p. 95
“The greatest challenge of the South African revolution is in the search for ways of thinking, ways of perception, that will help break down the closed epistemological structures of South African oppression, structures which can severely compromise resistance by dominating thinking itself. The challenge is to free the entire social imagination of the oppressed from the laws of perception that have characterised apartheid society. For writers this means freeing the creative process itself from those very laws. It means extending the writer’s perceptions of what can be written about, and the means and methods of writing”.
Njabulo Ndebele. “Redefining Relevance”, 1986. Published in South African Literature and Culture. Manchester University Press, 1994. p. 67.
“Give us something new. Something that ventures big questions and unorthodox positions about life in this lonely nation so hesitant in its becoming”.
Sean O’Toole. Art South Africa. Vol. 8, no. 4. Winter, 2010. p. 70.