A Critique of Njabulo Ndebele’s Criticism of Protest Fiction

Theophilus T Mukhuba

Abstract


In his critical writings contained in his book, Rediscovery of the Ordinary: Essays on South African Literature and Culture, Njabulo Ndebele propagates the view that black South African writers during the struggle years persistently wrote about the political environment and the conditions in which they found themselves, and are therefore guilty of simply making political statements rather than advancing an artistic perspective in their writing. He contends that in the process of doing so, they have disregarded the artistic value of literature in its more encompassing form. In March 1984, the magazine Staffrider, a South African literacy magazine, published an article entitled ‘Turkish Tales and Some Thoughts on South African Fiction’ in which Ndeblele singles out witers like Mothobi Mutloatse, Sipho Sepamla and Miriam Tlali as examples of writers who cause a certain degeneration in literacy art. This accusation, as this article will attempt to show, is largely unfair in view of the fact that his own fictional works cannot really be differentiated form those which he criticizes for their overtly political content. In fact, it appears that Ndebele strives to draw a distinction between him and these writers on theoretical grounds alone.He does this by offering alternative forms of literary expression which are not necessarily acceptable to all literacy artists, as literary composition does not necessarily have to subscribe to a particular school of literary art. In practical terms, as we shall see, there is often very little to choose between his fiction, which he produced during the Apartheid era, and the fiction of those he criticizes.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n20p2359


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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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