Authorship, authenticity and the black community: The novels of Soweto 1976

Sole, Kelwyn
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Following the renewal of black cultural activity around drama and poetry in South Africa since the early 1970s, a resurgence of the use of prose fiction has recently begun to take place. In the past decade several anthologies and collections of short stories have been published inside the country, and Staffrider and other literary magazines have fulfilled an important role in disseminating the stories of (amongst others) Matshoba, Ndebele, Essop, Dangor and Maseko to a wider audience. A number of novels have also appeared, the most noteworthy being Miriam Tlali's Muriel at Metropolitan (1975) and Amandla (1980); Ahmed Essop's The Visitation (1980) and The Emperor (1984); Sipho Sepamla's The Root is One (1979) and A Ride on the Whirlwind (1981); Mbulelo Mzamane's The Children of Soweto (1982); Mongane Serote's To Every Birth Its Blood (1981) and Boyd Makhoba's On the Eve (1986). The 16 June 1976 marked the palpable onset of a period of massive and ongoing political confrontation in South Africa, and it is no surprise that several of these novels deal directly or indirectly with this event and its aftermath. Mzamane's novel, and Sepamla's and Tlali's second novels, investigate the human experiences, reactions and the political activity in Soweto immediately before and after that fateful day in June. Serote's work, while it refers to the 'days of Power' only fleetingly, extrapolates the growth of armed resistance to the white government in the period following the Soweto uprising. The events of 1976 have a powerful implied presence as a fulcrum in this narrative, transforming the agonized subjective narration of Tsi Molope in the first section of the novel into a more objectified focus on the activities of a group of revolutionaries afterwards.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 8 September 1986
South African prose literature (English). History and criticism , South African literature. Black authors , South Africa. History. Soweto Uprising, 1976. Literature and the uprising