Научная статья на тему 'Turmoil and unrest in South African young adult literature'

Turmoil and unrest in South African young adult literature Текст научной статьи по специальности «Языкознание и литературоведение»

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APARTHEID / POLITICAL UNREST / POST-APARTHEID LITERATURE / RACISM / SOCIAL MEMORY / SOUTH AFRICAN YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE / SOWETO UPRISING

Аннотация научной статьи по языкознанию и литературоведению, автор научной работы — Инггс Джудит

This article investigates the ways in which the student protests and unrest during the Soweto Uprising of June 1976 and its aftermath was mediated and presented to young adult readers in literature written from 1979 to 2009. The focus is on how events are remembered and constructed through narrative and characterisation. During the early part of this period English-language writers represented opposition to the status quo and were generally strongly opposed to the system of apartheid. Writers performed a role as activists, constantly pushing their young readers to resist authority and the prevailing ideology. This gave rise to a number of works which sought to draw the attention of young white readers to the catastrophic, and often absurd, effects of the apartheid system. Four of these novels are examined in relation to the depiction of student unrest and the power relations existing between black and white characters. The works demonstrate that white characters in these novels were largely removed from, and oblivious to, the everyday realities of their black counterparts. After the first democratic elections in 1994 writers continued to remember and interpret the past through stories dealing with the same events and the continuing unrest in the 1980s. Two later novels by black writers are examined with the purpose of contrasting and comparing narrative techniques, focalisation, characterisation and attitudes. As writers continue to interpret and mediate the events affecting young people during the struggle new memories and new interpretations are still being created. The earlier novels were all written before the first democratic elections and end of apartheid when the future of the country remained in the balance. The later novels are written from hindsight the protests had proved successful, apartheid had been dismantled, and the role of the youth vindicated and partially iconicized. The most important factors are the relationship between the authors and their characters, and between the authors and their own memory of events and the significance ascribed to them.

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Текст научной работы на тему «Turmoil and unrest in South African young adult literature»

J. Inggs

TURMOIL AND UNREST IN SOUTH AFRICAN YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE

This article investigates the ways in which the student protests and unrest during the Soweto Uprising of June 1976 and its aftermath was mediated and presented to young adult readers in literature written from 1979 to 2009. The focus is on how events are remembered and constructed through narrative and characterisation. During the early part of this period English-language writers represented opposition to the status quo and were generally strongly opposed to the system of apartheid. Writers performed a role as activists, constantly pushing their young readers to resist authority and the prevailing ideology. This gave rise to a number of works which sought to draw the attention of young white readers to the catastrophic, and often absurd, effects of the apartheid system. Four of these novels are examined in relation to the depiction of student unrest and the power relations existing between black and white characters. The works demonstrate that white characters in these novels were largely removed from, and oblivious to, the everyday realities of their black counterparts. After the first democratic elections in 1994 writers continued to remember and interpret the past through stories dealing with the same events and the continuing unrest in the 1980s. Two later novels by black writers are examined with the purpose of contrasting and comparing narrative techniques, focalisation, characterisation and attitudes. As writers continue to interpret and mediate the events affecting young people during the struggle new memories and new interpretations are still being created. The earlier novels were all written before the first democratic elections and end of apartheid when the future of the country remained in the balance. The later novels are written from hindsight — the protests had proved successful, apartheid had been dismantled, and the role of the youth vindicated and partially iconicized. The most important factors are the relationship between the authors and their characters, and between the authors and their own memory of events and the significance ascribed to them.

Key words: Apartheid, political unrest, post-apartheid literature, racism, social memory, South African young adult literature, Soweto Uprising.

Turmoil and unrest, characteristic of the lives of many young South Africans growing up prior to the 1990s, has often featured in writing for young adults, particularly in relation to student and anti-apartheid protests. Before 1994 such works frequently served to disrupt the status quo and expose the many injustices of the apartheid system, while later works sought to explore the complex issues of memory and the legacy of the involvement of young people in the struggle. This article investigates

a number of works featuring the student protests of 1976 and beyond written between 1979 and 2009 by South African authors either living in, or brought up in, South Africa. I begin by discussing four works published in the 1980s, all by white writers, and then move on to a discussion of two more recent works by black writers published in the 2000s.

Gary Baines has explored "the role of memory and forgetting in the construction of national identity" [Baines 2007, p. 286], in relation to physical manifestations of memory such as monuments and statues. The focus here is on how events are remembered and constructed through narrative and characterisation. The role of written narratives in the construction and interpretation of memory was highlighted by Andre Brink, for whom fiction enables an "imaginative understanding" of the past, and the drawing of different versions of that past into the present [p. 23]. Versions of the past, as depicted in the novels discussed below, show how the distance from events and the experience of the authors influence their, and our, understanding of history through narrative. Although unrest is a feature of all of the works discussed, it is not necessarily the dominant theme, as the injustices and absurdities of apartheid are also inevitably part of the narrative. This exposure and implicit condemnation was often prohibited or discouraged in South Africa, such as Ann Harness The Sound of the Gora (1980) and Toecky Jones's Go Well, Stay Well (1989) [Heale].

The 1976 Soweto uprising, which subsequently spread across the country, was primarily triggered by language policy although its origins were much more complex, reflecting a long-standing and deep-seated unrest in the country. Government language policy dictated that Afrikaans and English should be used equally in schools within South Africa — excluding the homelands which had been established as areas specifically for the various ethnic groupings in the country1. However, this policy was not strictly enforced before 1976, when the Department of Bantu Education and Development declared that tuition in mathematics and arithmetic was to be in Afrikaans only, despite the fact that the majority of teachers and pupils did not have sufficient command of the language [Gilliomee, Mbenga 2007, p. 362-364]. As Afrikaans was also widely considered the language of the oppressor, this development was the catalyst that led to massive demonstrations resulting in the death of approximately 176 young people on 16 June 19762. By the following year more than 500 teachers had resigned and "secondary education in Soweto had been brought virtually to a standstill" [p. 362-364]. The significance of this day was formally acknowledged in the new South Africa when it was

made a public holiday, now known and commemorated as Youth Day, in recognition of the contribution made by the youth to the struggle.

There are no scholarly publications in the field of young adult literature dealing specifically with the events of June 1976 or the subsequent student protests. South African young adult literature has generally not featured prominently in either local or international scholarship, although there is more available in the general field of children's literature such as Elwyn Jenkins's Children of the Sun (1993) and National Character in South Africa English Children's Literature (2006). In 2001 Donnarae MacCann and Yulisa Maddy published Apartheid and Racism in South African Children's Literature 1985-1995 in which white writers write black characters [Sibanda 2012]. South African young adult literature needs to be read from an understanding of the historical background and culture of the country. It is difficult to read from the outside, although reading it from the inside can also result in misinterpretations and blurred vision, as objectivity can be difficult to achieve in relation to personal experience. As I did not grow up in South Africa but have lived here for many years I hope that this discussion will be as objective as possible.

It is important to remember that the role of South African young adult fiction in English has often been to encourage young people to question and even reject the moral basis of society, in contrast with many other literatures which have served to encourage acceptance of the status quo and the social institutions in which young people live [Trites 2004, p. 27]. Writers performed a role as activists, constantly pushing their young readers to resist authority and the prevailing ideology. This is especially true of the earlier works discussed below written before the end of the apartheid era:Go Well, Stay Well by Toeckey Jones (1979), The Sound of the Gora by Ann Harries (1980), Sheila Gordon's Waiting for the Rain (1987) and Barbara Ludman' mmm s The Day of the Kugel (1989). Each of these authors is writing to at least some extent from personal experience, which influences their representation of events. Each of these works features an author-narrator, irrespective of the focalising character. All four of the authors are white, and three of the four left South Africa during the 70s and 80s for political reasons. Toeckey Jones was born in South Africa and left the country in 1971 to settle in the United Kingdom. Ann Harries grew up in Cape Town, after which she moved to England where she became involved in the anti-apartheid movement. Sheila Gordon was born in South Africa but also left as a young adult and has spent most of her life in the United States ("A Conversation with Sheila Gordon"). Conversely, Barbara Ludman was born in the United

States and moved to South Africa in 1976 where she became a leading journalist and a founder member of one of South Africa's most renowned anti-apartheid publications, the Weekly Mail. Given their backgrounds, these writers may have been unaware of the full extent of the riots at the time of writing, and second, they would have been aware of the risk of censorship within the country. Both of these factors will have influenced the way in which events are depicted and characters portrayed.

The earliest work, Go Well, Stay Well, focuses on an interracial friendship following an incident when Candy, a white girl, sprains her ankle in a park in Johannesburg and Becky, a black girl, comes to her assistance. The friendship is logistically difficult as the two girls occupy different social and geographical spaces — Becky lives in Soweto, a large township to the south-west of Johannesburg, and Candy lives in the largely middle-class northern suburbs of the city and would not be permitted to enter Soweto. The two girls proceed to concoct a rather contrived story about Becky helping Candy with her Zulu lessons.

Although the contrived nature of the story is evident in a contemporary post-apartheid reading this was not immediately apparent to reviewers at the time of publication. One reviewer did comment on the contrived ending when the two friends plot to go on holiday together to Swaziland—where there are no restrictions on their friendship—but the same reviewer regards Jones's characters as "credible and natural", an observation which is difficult to uphold thirty five years later ("Go Well, Stay Well by Toeckey Jones"). There are no characters in the novel that escape stereotyping. Candy's parents are depicted as liberal whites, but are concerned about their neighbours' opinion should Becky be seen visiting; Candy is a white teenager largely ignorant of the everyday lives of black people in the townships; and Tom, the "family's African servant", calls Candy "Miss Cand", and is seemingly 'sensitive' enough to pretend he is unaware of Becky's visits, carefully planned to coincide with his day off [Jones 1980, p. 29]. He plays the subservient and semi-visible role common to most servants in novels by white writers set or written during this period. The author highlights the inequalities between blacks and whites in apartheid South Africa to draw the attention of the reader, who is assumed to be as ignorant as Candy. It is through Becky that Candy gradually acquires an awareness of the injustices in South African society, a narrative device that would be unnecessary if the novel was intended for a contemporary, mixed readership. Thus the figure of Becky functions primarily as a channel for educating both Candy and the reader. Candy's situation, far removed from Becky's own reality, reflects the events

of 1976 from afar: "for the most part, life in the white suburbs surrounding Johannesburg went on much the same as always. The violence was distant; the police were containing it within the black areas" [p. 132]. What could have been a traumatic account of Becky's rape on her way to visit Candy highlights the sharp contrast between the spaces inhabited by the two girls. Becky is matter-of-fact and almost resigned to her status as a victim as she relates her story somewhat impassively. Candy reacts with disbelief and genuine incomprehension but her intervention goes no further. The incident is downplayed by Jones, and superficially Becky seems to accept the threat of rape as a fact of life. News of the riots of June 16 prompt Candy to become concerned about her friend's well-being, but once she has reconnected with her through messages sent via domestic servants, who often provide a means of informal communication a time when telephones were not commonplace, the two girls collude in planning their trip to Swaziland and the riots and the reasons for them are forgotten. Sibanda notes that Becky is depicted as an "exceptional black character" who "contributes to the development of the white character and acquaints the implied white readers in a rather patronising manner with a black character that they can relate to and possibly even consider befriending" [Sibanda 2012, p. 108]. Although inevitable in the context of society in the 1970s power relations are starkly unequal as Candy provides Becky with books and clothes, and her parents and uncle fund Becky's education and the trip to Swaziland. This almost certainly genuine generosity is accepted by Becky, albeit with some humiliation, as she has no other resources available to her. The gap between whites and blacks is unequivocally apparent while the reader is gently prompted to consider that life might, or should, be different.

Ann Harries's The Sound of the Gora is set in 1976 in Cape Town. The riots and unrest feature more prominently than in Go Well, Stay Well, but they remain peripheral to the central themes. The author seeks to highlight the injustices of apartheid and the absurdity of racial classification hen Caroline, the female 'white' protagonist, discovers the existence of a 'coloured' sister, abandoned by her father after birth when he is covers his wife was 'play-White'4. As she searches for her sister Caroline befriends a young coloured boy, Andre, and helps him to find his father. A parallel story set in 1800 centres on the master-slave relationship between the Afrikaner settlers and the Bushmen of the Cape when the young male protagonist, Andre, the son of a Boer farmer, forms a friendship with a young San5 girl, Nama, who has been captured by his father's commando. The two stories merge in the gora6 of the title,

the music of which echoes down the years and eventually draws Andre to the mountain where he finds his father, a descendant of Nama, and the source of the sound of the gora.

Caroline begins the novel as a 'white' girl, but finally requests to be reclassified and joins her sister to live in a 'coloured' area, illustrating her growing sense of agency as she openly opposes the authority of both her father and the state. As in the previous novel, however, her superior financial and social status means that she takes the lead in her relationship with Andre, who has far fewer resources available. The use of multifo-calisation and diary entries enables the reader to 'hear' different voices as the author educates the implied reader, who is assumed to be unaware of the political unrest and violence taking place. Caroline, however, unlike Candy, experiences the violence first-hand. The police are described as an impassive body, "marching in a strange, compulsive way upon a huge crowd of men, women and children" [Harries 1980, p. 133] as Caroline records events in her diary, and documents the use of tear gas, batons and bullets. The narrator's opinion is expressed in parentheses:

Another busy day for the riot police, the railway police, the traffic police, the entire might-is-right of the South African police: six foot rugby forwards, bulging necks, revolvers in leather, they fall upon these children with a loathing bred by history [p. 123].

As the story draws to an end Yusuf, a young coloured man involved in the unrest, flees to Botswana to join the liberation movement. Although Harries presents an ultimately brave and optimistic narrative, pioneering at the time of writing, there is no sense that the riots were a positive contribution to the struggle for freedom or any real commemoration of events. The young activists are shown as divided in their opinions and attitudes, infiltrated by young thugs engaged in criminal activity and disapproved of by their elders. Yusuf states calmly that "we must face the fact that our parents are ashamed of being Black" [Harries 1980, p. 103-104] while Andre's grandmother comments that Yusuf is "jus' throwing his chance away. They say he's got the most brains in the school, now all he care about is making trouble" [p. 97]. Harries highlights the absurdity of families being broken up as a result of apartheid racial classification while at the same time emphasising the common roots of all South Africans.

Barbara Ludman's The Day of the Kugel (1989) is written from the perspective of Michelle, a young American girl who is sent to stay with her relatives in Johannesburg in 1976. The narrative is in the third person, focalised through Michelle. This narrative technique again provides the author with the opportunity to impart information about

the inequalities of South African society to the implied uninformed white readers and to push them to question their assumptions and attitudes as Michelle experiences everyday life from the point of view of the 'other'. For example, when she meets Joe, a banned black playwright who works in the small restaurant where she has found a job, she holds out her hand:

Joe smiled and took Michelle's hand for a moment, then let it drop.

"Miss Michelle is the niece of Professor Marcus," said Mrs Malan, sharply. "From America. She's not used to our ways yet" [Ludman 1989, p. 25].

Events on Wednesday, 16 June, 1976, are all related second-hand, via newspaper articles or through accounts by domestic workers. Joe's is the only 'authentic' black voice: "There were bodies stacked like firewood behind the police station", he tells Michelle [p. 71]. Michelle deliberately joins the white students' protest and witnesses a friend being hit with a riot stick by another impassive, robot-like, policeman:

Tracey stood there open-mouthed until the blood began to flow from her forehead. Then she tried to run again; and the policeman — young, blonde, impassive — hit her again, on the back this time, and dragged her up the slope [p. 78].

Ultimately, however, this novel is not about the riots or the reasons behind the unrest but about Michelle. The day after this experience, Michelle goes shopping for clothes with her aunt commenting afterwards that "it was a wonderful day" [p. 90]. As Sibanda observes: "Joe in Day of the Kugel)... educates Michelle about apartheid, which in turns enables her to overcome her personal and familial challenges" [p. 107]. Once again there is no positive portrayal of the riots or the ongoing struggle even though one of Michelle's white friends is obliged to flee to Botswana and Joe is sent to jail. Ludman writes from a personal perspective as her character seeks to make sense of events which fundamentally do not involve or directly affect her.

One of the most successful early novels focusing on the riots is Waiting for the Rain by Sheila Gordon (1987). This work has a greater degree of plausibility and conviction although the author's attitude to characters and events remains ambiguous. Frikkie and Tengo are childhood friends, having spent many hours together as children on Frikkie's uncle's farm — where restrictions on interracial friendships were less obstructive. The narrative is focalised primarily through Tengo, with the focus occasionally shifting to Frikkie, giving the reader access to the experience of both characters. Frikkie's uncle and aunt vocalise the status quo, as they constantly emphasise the inferiority of the black

characters through their words and actions. Frikkie's uncle tells his wife "So long as a native knows his place he'll be all right" and then explains:

But once he starts getting ideas, he no longer knows his place — and then you get trouble. That's the reason for all the unrest they're having in the townships. I tell you, Sannie, when I was a boy growing up here on the farm, you would never have heard of a kaffir wanting to read and write [Gordon 1996, p. 80].

Tengo's parents equally offer no resistance to the status quo, appearing to be resigned to their circumstances. When Tengo asks his mother why she has to serve supper at the farmhouse instead of eating with her own family, she replies: "Don't ask questions that have no answer, my child" [p. 72]. Tengo's anger and his hunger for education grow until he finally leaves for the city to attend school and is drawn into the simmering student unrest. His passion for learning is pitched against his loyalty to his peers who pressurise him to join the struggle. As reflected in the discussion of the two more recent novels by black writers this was a quandary faced by many young students at the time. Eventually his commitment to the struggle is cemented when he is inadvertently confronted by a clash between students and the police. He picks up pieces of rubble and broken bricks and begins to hurl them at the police:

With each rock he hurled, something that had lain mute and ugly and dangerous at the root of his being rose up and flew out, released, bitterly gratifying... Tengo flung the rocks one after another, experiencing as each one soared its arc through the air a sense of freedom he had never known [p. 181-182].

Running for safety he hides in a shed, pursued by a white soldier, who, somewhat implausibly, turns out to be Frikkie. Implausibly, the soldier who chases him is turns out to be Frikkie, conscripted into the army after leaving school. There follows a poignant conversation in which Tengo vents his fury on Frikkie for "not knowing. For not wanting to know" [p. 195]. Frikkie, unlike the impassive policeman common in the other novels, is portrayed as a real person with whom the implied white reader might empathise:

They don't know how scared we are, he thought, having to jump off the Casspirs into the softness of a crowd of civilians <.. .> Don't they realize how frightening it is to have to plunge into that soft sea of hate and violence — so many of them and so few

of us even though we have the sticks and guns? [p. 192] (italics in original)

After this incident Tengo is empowered as he resolves to join the ANC and leave the country to study rather than fight, demonstrating his belief that education is the long-term solution for him and his peers. The ending of the novel highlights the chasm between Frikkie's and Tengo's worlds but also points towards the possibility of future reconciliation, ensuring

a more positive outcome than in the other early novels, but one that would not necessarily have been apparent at the time Gordon was writing.

The two later works offer interesting insights in terms of distance from events and personal involvement: Dancing in the Dust by Kagiso Lesego Molope (2002) which has an accompanying volume of study notes (Hoy), and Bua, Comrade! by Thiathu Nemutanzhela (2007) which includes classroom activities as well as an English language glossary. The chief protagonist of Bua, Comrade! is a young black man, Kanakana, who has recently moved to Alexandra, a township to the north of Johannesburg. Nemutanzhela grew up in the same area as Kanakana, and also moved to Alexandra as a young man in the 1980s, indicating the influence of personal experience on the narrative. Like Tengo, Kanakana experiences a battle of conscience, torn between continuing his education and playing an active role in the struggle. He feels himself to be an outsider, terrified that he will become embroiled in the conflict and yet unable to justify his position on the periphery. The white characters in the novel are stereotypical unthinking benefactors, such as the white lawyer who offers Kanakana an apprenticeship but assigns him menial tasks and lends him a book entitled The Educability of the South African Native. Humiliated and insulted, Kanakana's dilemma is resolved when he is offered a place to stay in the suburbs and is told that in return he is to do the gardening and clean the pool. Kanakana finds his own agency and identity by refusing the subject position imposed upon him, an agency reinforced by the incorporation of Zulu dialogue, which in turn constructs an implied black reader, likely to identify with Kanakana. At a meeting to discuss events on the occasion of the June 16 anniversary, Kanakana's friend, Fana, is advocating for the students to return to school when the meeting is stormed by soldiers and Fana is shot dead. Discussion around the protests and the reasons for them feature strongly in the narrative, whereas there is little or no discussion in the other novels discussed above. The final chapter of the novel takes place twelve years later, when young people are described as having opportunities: "They could go places and achieve things in the new South Africa, things that had not been possible ten years ago" [Nemutanzhela 2007, p. 77], highlighting the positive outcome and ultimate value of the unrest.

Dancing in the Dust by Kagiso Lesego Molope (2002) is a remarkable work by a young black author who was born in 1976 and grew up in a township west of Pretoria. The narrative is focalised entirely through thirteen-year old Tihelo, who relates her direct experiences of the student riots of the 1980s in the first person, encouraging greater empathy between

the reader and the chief protagonist, and giving the reader a more intimate view of the character's inner thoughts and perceptions [Inggs 2007, p. 39]. Tihelo's experiences are portrayed in such a compelling and vivid style that the reader might easily believe that the work is an autobiography, especially as parts of the narrative are written in italics, as if recollections of past events by an adult. One of these refers to the events of 1976: "My earliest memory is of feet in black shoes and black socks running,

bodies in black and white diving, school bags dropping on the ground in the middle of the streets" [Molope 2004, p. 105]. The contribution made by the author's personal experience makes this work far more credible than those by white writers discussed above in which events are generally described from a distance.

Like Tengo and Kanakana, Tihelo begins her story feeling removed from the protest action around her, hearing news from neighbours and friends and wishing they would watch events "from a distance, the way I preferred to" [p. 30]. Even when she eventually agrees to help produce fliers and organize meetings, she reiterates her lack of direct involvement: "At this point I felt no strong connection with the comrades, even if I was working with them daily. Instead, I resented their zeal" [p. 67]. When her mother is beaten by the police and imprisoned for a night the violence comes closer, and as she gradually becomes more directly involved in events her confidence and sense of empowerment grow. At the same time she continues to experience extreme fear and terror: "So we just grew into hopelessness because we were constantly running and hiding from danger. I watched in horror as students vandalised people's property, making it look as though we were in control when in fact we were terrified" [p. 78]. Like Tengo, it is her participation in the riots that finally cements her commitment, as she throws stones at the hippos (armoured police vehicles): "I felt like all the power in the world lay in the palm of my hand. I saw in that stone my ticket to freedom" [p. 131]. The climax of the novel comes when Tihelo and her sister are taken by police in the middle of the night. As the reader by now identifies strongly with Tihelo as a character, the description of humiliation, degradation and violence is particularly disturbing. In one scene when the policemen interrogating her attempt to rape her, her developing emotional maturity is clearly displayed. Tihelo realises in an instant that rape is most probably officially forbidden and loudly shouts out: "I'm so excited. I know it's illegal for me to sleep with a White man in this country, but if this is my lucky day, I may just consider breaking the law!" [p. 166]. The policemen — again unidentified, unnamed and almost

inhuman — eventually give up and lock her in a dark cell, infested with rats, where she is kept for several months. The role of her experience in her growth and empowerment is reflected at the end of the novel, when she writes to her newly discovered biological mother, a white girl who had to give her up for adoption, describing herself as "Tihelo Masimo, revolutionary" [p. 187].

It might be expected that black writers would recall and depict events differently, given the greater personal involvement and the characters' experience of events. The earlier novels reflect a clear power division between the main, white, protagonists, and the black characters, but this division is not overtly drawn. This power division remains in Bua, Comrade! because it reflects the social reality of the period, but Kanakana's experience of economic disempowerment has a very different effect as he resists being positioned as inferior or dependent on 'hand-outs'. The earlier novels also generally reflect the unrest via other characters and have an implied reader who is white and middle-class — identifiable because the author uses the narrative to educate the reader about realities of which he or she may have been ignorant. In the two more recent novels Kanakana and Tihelo have their own, strong, voice, and are directly involved in, and affected by, the protests. Nemutanzhela's work has a more obviously educational purpose, with its implied audience being non-native speakers of English, given the inclusion of an English glossary. The extensive use of Zulu phrases in the narrative confirm that the implied reader is an African language speaker—especially as Zulu is the most common language in South Africa. Lesego Molope's novel is more sophisticated, with a dual audience of adults and teenagers of any linguistic or ethnic background, but the almost exclusively black characters are likely to result in greater identification on the part of black readers. The reality of the period of unrest is far more central in the two later works, whereas the focus of the earlier works is on other issues, and the riots are more peripheral to the narrative.

These differences can be attributed to the personal experiences of the authors, as mentioned above, and also to the temporal distance between the events and the memory of those events as represented in the narrative. The earlier novels were all written before the first democratic elections and end of apartheid when the future of the country remained in the balance. The later novels are written from hindsight — the protests had proved successful, apartheid had been dismantled, and the role of the youth vindicated and partially iconicized.

The most important factors are the relationship between the authors and their characters, and between the authors and their own memory of events and the significance ascribed to them. All the novels contribute to the "imaginative understanding" described by Brink [p. 23] and all are of value from a historical and educational perspective for the way in which memories are reconstructed and interpreted. Read twenty years after the end of apartheid, the contrasting narratives of Michelle and Tihelo provide material for the discussion of different experiences of similar political events and the everyday realities of characters such as Becky, Tengo, Andre, Kanakana and Tihelo can be contrasted with those of Candy, Frikkie, Michelle and Caroline, as readers are prompted to explore their own history and the attitudes prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s. As writers continue to interpret and mediate the events affecting young people during the struggle new memories and new interpretations are still being created and reflected in young adult literature. As Helena Pohlandt-McCormick suggests, "[i]n some sense what happened in Soweto happened to everyone in South Africa" [p. 44]. Memories of those events and of the South African past are "constituted by individual and collective memory .narrator and historian" [p. 44]. This discussion has sought to show how those memories are constituted in young adult novels at different times by black and white authors. In all of the novels discussed, the period of transition represented by adolescence parallels the transition experienced in South Africa. As the teenagers in these novels rebel against the status quo and resist the structure of the society they live in, so their actions are shown to contribute to the eventual crumbling of that society, and the rebuilding of a new South Africa.

References

1 The policy of separate development was intended to turn South Africa into a white republic in which there were no black citizens. Every black African was to be assigned to a 'homeland' according to their ethnic identity. Ten homelands were created, and mass forced removals ensued [The Homelands].

2 For further information see "Down with Afrikaans" and "Soweto Uprising — The 16 June 1976 Student Uprising in Soweto" [Soweto Uprising].

3 These are only available in Afrikaans and are not discussed here.

4 'Play-White' referred to coloured people who could 'pass for White' based on their appearance. A distinction is still made in South Africa between the terms black and coloured. Criteria used may include the surname, the person's first language, their accent, or where the family comes from. Skin colour is just one of the criteria used. During apartheid siblings were occasionally classified differently, which meant that, under the Group Areas Act of 1950, they could not live in the same community [Gilliomee, Mbenga, p. 318].

5 There is no unanimously accepted term for referring to descendants of the first inhabitants of Southern Africa. I use 'San' as I believe it to be the most neutral [Hitchcock, Robert K. and Biesele, Megan].

6 A gora is a bow played by "forcefully inhaling and exhaling over a feather connecting the string to one end of the bow" [Stone, p. 313].

Sources

Baines G. The Master Narrative of South Africa's Liberation Struggle: Remembering and Forgetting, June 16, 1976. The International Journal of African Historical Studies. 2007. Vol. 40. №2. P. 283-302.

Brink A. Reinventing a Continent: Revisiting History in the Literature of the New South Africal (A Personal Testimony). World Literature Today. 1996. Vol. 70. №1. P. 17-23.

Down with Afrikaans [Electronic resource] South African History Online. URL: http:// www.sahistory.org.za/articles/down-afrikaans (accessed on 05.07.2014).

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