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Sandile Memela Cuts Loose on the Black Stars of SA Lit

Native NostalgiaThe Poverty of IdeasBlack DiamondArchitects of PovertyTo the BrinkSpeaking Truth to Power

Controversial Department of Arts and Culture mandarin Sandile Memela has produced a scathing attack on South Africa’s black writers, accusing the likes of Zakes Mda, Moeletsi Mbeki, William Gumede, Jacob Dlamini and others of pandering to white interests and holding back South Africa’s development into a truly just society with views that are “far too reactionary, simple and predictable – especially from blacks with PhDs”.

Stop rubbishing the government and start celebrating freedom! is Memela’s plaintive cry:

The last ten years have been marked by a strange phenomenon in black writing.

This is a visible and negative literary portrayal of the black experience and critical assault on black identity and achievement.

This is quite ironic.

But black writers have, unwittingly, become enemies of everything that their people fought for.

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Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Kathryn</a>
    November 30th, 2009 @13:12 #

    Wow! This is so incredibly short-sighted. Fits right into the NPA appointment slot and the various other yes-man events of the last few months. Memela should join the SABC where propaganda makes for great entertainment.

  • Maire
    November 30th, 2009 @16:34 #

    At the end of this article it says that Mr Memela, "senior marketing manager for the Department of Arts & Culture ... writes in his personal capacity". Does he write in his personal time too,I wonder, or is this article and numerous others like it over at Thought Leader written during time paid for by the tax payer? Also, at Thought Leader his profile says that he "believes in freedom of expression and respects the right of those who do not agree with him". As long as they don't fictionalise those thoughts and get published?

    PS Thought I'd try to see how many posts Sandile Memela has written at Thought Leader and gave up counting after 50 or so. But in browsing came across this in a long and rambling post entitled "‘Blacks’ or whites do not exist and the racist notion should have been dropped in 1994": "Worse, the very idea of seeing ourselves as blacks and others as white, Indian or coloured threatens national unity and guarantees that Hendrik Verwoerd’s apartheid vision remains supreme above that of Nelson Mandela."

    Are writers excluded from the above I wonder?

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Kathryn</a>
    November 30th, 2009 @17:11 #

    Hahah. Missed the marketing manager bit - not very promotional re SA Lit.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    November 30th, 2009 @20:34 #

    So badly argued it's quite sad. Got the impression he hasn't read that many black authors (who he lumps together in a vague welter of same-old same-old insults), but has stuck to perusing their book titles.

    Just the line "But black writers have, unwittingly, become enemies of everything that their people fought for" can be pulled to bits in seconds. 1) Who are these "black writers"? Pretty blurry category, given that it could include everyone from K. Sello Duiker to Pallo Jordan to Zoe Wicomb to Kgebetli Moele to Sindiwe Magona. He singles out a few individuals (whose crime appears to have been daring to get PhDs) -- a handful out of many, many writers blazing across our firmaments. 2) How they can all be unwitting? Are they zombies or what? All on heavy drugs? 3) Enemies of "everything their people fought for"? Everything? Yup, I hear Mda et al calling for the franchise to be taken away from blacks all the time. 4) How does Memela know these authors weren't among the "fighting people"? Some of them were highly active in the struggle. 5) Who is "their people" anyway? (See 1 above as well as Memela's own column linked above.)

    He's also talking rubbish about their being no black-owned etc publishing houses, or no black editors. Sadly, there are indeed not many of the latter, largely because black editors are generally head-hunted from publishers at a dizzying speed and offered far better paid jobs in the private and govt sectors.... If Memela has a solution to the fact that the publishing industry runs mostly on thin air, we'd all love to hear it.


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