Zakes Mda has added his voice to the debate around South Africa’s “white literary system” that was initiated recently by Thando Mgqolozana at the Franschhoek Literary Festival.
In an interview with Charl Blignaut for City Press, Mda expresses solidarity with Mgqolozana, saying that the FLF replicates the feelings generated by European literary festivals: “You feel like you are a dancing monkey.” He says he will “never go back” to Franschhoek, although he says his reasons differ slightly, and are more to do with irrelevant discussions.
Mda says that although it is white people who perpetuate this kind of exclusion, black leaders are somewhat at fault for allowing it to happen.
Read the article:
Regarding a similar lack of transformation around the inclusion of black African novels in school curriculums, Mda said: “Who’s in charge of the syllabus? It’s us. Thando should be angry with us mostly. Because we run this country now and we’ve been running it for 21 years. If there’s anything wrong here, we should have changed it. You don’t hear me going around saying whites this and whites that. If whites are doing that it’s because we have allowed them to do it. That is why my criticism is directed at the people I have employed to change that situation. The people I elected and then also us who must work towards changing it.”
A word of caution: it seems that Mda believes that the headline of the above article, “Blame black leaders, not white thieves,” misrepresents his stance on the matter, as he tweeted:
Those who get their news from headlines will totally get a wrong impression about what I stand for https://t.co/ytEWyZnMUl
— Zakes Mda (@ZakesMda) May 31, 2015
- “You Speak So Well” – HJ Golakai Appraises South Africa’s “White Literary System” and Shares Her Memories of the FLF
- “The Violence of the White Audience” – Malaika Wa Azania and TO Molefe Add to the White Literary System Debate
- “Can the Twain Meet?” Karin Schimke Gives her Take on Thando Mgqolozana’s White Literary System Debate
- “Look at Yourselves – It’s Very Abnormal”: Thando Mgqolozana Quits South Africa’s “White Literary System”
- Karabo Kgoleng Weighs in on the “White Literary System” Debate: “We are Lazy with Our Analysis of this Issue”
- Thando Mgqolozana Outlines 21 Suggestions for the Decolonisation of the South African Literary Scene
- Siphiwo Mahala and Eusebius McKaiser Comment on Thando Mgqolozana’s Decision to Opt Out of South African Literary Festivals