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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Sugar-coated stories? Plantation literature by selected South African Indian writers
Author:Stiebel, LindyISNI
Periodical:The English Academy Review (ISSN 1753-5360)
Geographic term:South Africa
contract labour
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/10131752.2016.1153570
Abstract:This article will focus on what can be called plantation literature in South African: that is, writing which has as its spatial focus sugar farms or plantations, defined as single units of agricultural production that raise crops for local consumption and export, largely situated on the KwaZulu-Natal coastal belt. The term 'plantation' is more commonly used in the Atlantic world but, in common with the sugar plantations in South Africa linked to the Indian Ocean, the communities of such farms in the nineteenth century were characterized by the existence of two sets of people: a wealthy elite of plantation owners and a large, poor population of plantation workers. The descendants of such labourers - in South Africa comprising Indian indentured workers from the subcontinent - together with descendants of 'passenger' Indians, have survived to tell the tales of their forefathers and, by extension, their own. The literature that has emerged from this theme, 'plantation literature', engages with issues of memory, suffering, identity and bearing witness to the past. The 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first indentured Indian labourers in South Africa in 2010 saw a spike in the number of works written by South African Indian writers, with the 'sugar texts' prominent among them. A few will be discussed in this article. In particular the work of Aziz Hassim's Revenge of Kali (2009), Rubendra Govender's Sugar Cane Boy (2008), Neelan Govender's Girrmit Tales (2008) and Tholsi Mudly's A Tribute to our Forefathers (2011) will be studied as examples of engagement with plantation literature by selected South African Indian writers. Bibliogr., note, sum. [Journal abstract]