This Fiction Friday, feast your eyes on Jabu Goes to Joburg, a fotonovela by Achal Prabhala that features as a pull-out supplement that rubs with the latest edition of Chimurenga’s Chronic.
The April edition of the Chronic explores “the tensions between reform and revolution, and decolonisation and the neoliberal order in the academy, through the lens of history and via the alternate education paradigms based in indigenous knowledge systems, and also arising from South Africa’s radical anti-apartheid struggle”.
Contributors include Rustum Kozain, Masande Ntshanga, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi, Florence Madenga, Ed Pavlic, Jon Soske, Meghna Singh, Abdourahman Waberi, Nick Mulgrew, Lindokuhle Nkosi, Wendell Marsh, Nick Mwaluko, and many more.
To buy a copy in print or as a PDF head to the Chronic‘s online shop or find your nearest stockist.
Of Jabu Goes to Joburg, Prabhala says: “I’m particularly excited to see this in print for several reasons, not least of which is that the form itself has been dead for two decades – even though every South African over the age of 30 will recognise what we are doing.
“There are some surprising people in the fotonovela, including Isabel Hofmeyr – an intellectual I deeply admire, and the deeply respectable author of too many books to name – taking on the thoroughly disrespectable role of a fur-clad golden-gloved crime boss. Which is something I hope you’ll enjoy!”
Jabu Goes to Joburg was produced by Pam Dlungwana, and the full cast list is: Euridice Kala, Tiyiselani Kubayi, Phindile Cindi, Suraj Yengde, Meghan Judge, Nicky Falkof, Pule, Francis Burger, Nana Zajiji, Dorothee Kreutzfeldt, Gilles Baro, Achal Prabhala, Dean Hutton, Skhumbuzo Mbixane, Sibusiso “The General” Nxumalo and Isabel Hofmeyr.
In an interview with the Chronic, Prabhala explains the project:
I haven’t actually seen “Jim comes to Joburg”. I’ve heard of it, of course, but I don’t think I’ll be watching it any time soon. I find it massively annoying that every urban story in South Africa is some version of “XYZ comes to Joburg” – and essentially the same story: good-hearted wide-eyed rural man/woman comes to the city of gold to seek his/her fortune and gets screwed. Alan Paton wrote “Cry, the Beloved Country” in 1948 and that little snowflake he kicked down the mountain kept rolling, and rolling, and became an avalanche. So much so that 70 years later, the big feature films set in the city – I’m thinking of Tsotsi and Jerusalema – are about little more than how the whole place is some kind of torrid hallucination. It’s as if there’s a rule; a mandatory clause that requires all creative people to plumb the stygian depths of Joburg in any narrative of the place, from which no one is exempt – not even, for instance, the young, black, male writer of a promising blog-turned-book called the “Diary of a Zulu girl” in which said Zulu girl makes the long journey to Joburg only to immediately descend into prostitution.
He also has time for some praise for pulp fiction:
One of the casualties of a high-minded literary culture everywhere – from South Africa to India and to the United States – is the devaluation and gradual disappearance of pulp fiction. Literary culture can degrade popular culture all it likes, but the lurid stories being sold on the streets of Lagos, São Paulo, Hong Kong or Bangalore – where I live – have the stamp of democracy. Mostly terrible, sometimes passable, and very rarely wonderful, the book on the street is, however, always a sign of a population in control. And as much as I regret the loss of the steamy paperback in middle-class literary life, I am reminded of how the sentiment still exists when I read the tabloids, or internet fan fiction, or see popular social media memes. Google Mugabe’s misstep on the tarmac, or Zuma’s weekend-special Finance Ministry appointment, and then read our fotonovela: you’ll see the same thing going on – ordinary people crudely photoshopping their reality on earth into the preferred universe of their imagination. Pulp fiction has only disappeared from print, not from our lives.
Chimurenga has shared an excerpt from Jabu Goes to Joburg with Books LIVE. Have a look:
Excerpt Jabu Goes to Joburg, the fotonovela featured in the latest edition of Chimurenga's Cronic by Books LIVE