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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Performing the precolonial: Zakes Mda's 'The Sculptors of Mapungubwe'
Author:Jacobs, J.U.ISNI
Periodical:Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa (ISSN 2159-9130)
Geographic term:South Africa
national identity
cultural heritage
About person:Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni Mda (1948-)ISNI
Abstract:The article traces the continuity between Zakes Mda's storytelling in his works for the theatre and his fictional works. This is especially evident in the performative character of his novels: his fictional protagonists are performers and artists of various kinds, and some kind of indigenous cultural, religious or artistic performance is usually foregrounded in his novels. His novel, The Sculptors of Mapungubwe (2013), is the latest stage in his larger fictional project of imaginatively mapping southern Africa. In a narrative that draws on different epistemological realms and modes of storytelling, Mda recreates the physical and human geography of the precolonial Kingdom of Mapungubwe in Limpopo, its social hierarchy, cosmogony and historical context. Continuing with his narrative formula of having twinned protagonists, Mda considers, with reference to the half-brother sculptors, Chata and Rendani, the role of the artist in society and the relationship between art and national identity. Traditional and innovative music and dance performances are once again foregrounded in the novel as Mda further explores the !Kung cultural heritage in southern Africa. The article concludes that as a precolonial parable about art and society, the Sculptors of Mapungubwe disappointingly does not offer any kind of contemporary perspective on, or suggest any present-day relevance for, the historical events it describes. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]