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Title:Dreaming of a humane society: orature and death in Zakes Mda's 'Ways of Dying' and Phaswane Mpe's 'Welcome to our Hillbrow'
Author:Barris, KenISNI
Periodical:The English Academy Review (ISSN 1753-5360)
Geographic term:South Africa
oral literature
About persons:Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni Mda (1948-)ISNI
Phaswane Mpe (1970-2004)ISNI
Abstract:This article discusses orature and death in two South African novels, 'Ways of Dying' (1995) by Zakes Mda and 'Welcome to our Hillbrow' (2001) by Phaswane Mpe. Both writers construct death as a signifier of traumatic social change, thus anatomizing community responses to transformation. Both introduce the narrative technique of orature. Mda, however, counterposes orature against death, injecting through it a humane and uplifting principle. In Mpe's novel, orature finds a more causative role, becoming a malicious agency that leads to the death of various characters. The article contrasts the viewpoints thus projected through orature, Mda projecting a community-based, developmental commitment, while Mpe negates community and nation as principles of social consolidation. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract]