Anti-Apartheid Literature Criticism: Writing Under Apartheid: Historical Views - Essay

Alex La Guma (essay date January-March 1975)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: La Guma, Alex. “South African Writing under Apartheid.” Lotus: Afro-Asian Writings, no. 23 (January-March 1975): 11-21.

[La Guma is considered one of South Africa's most prominent writers of anti-apartheid literature. A member of the South African Communist Party who helped draft the Freedom Charter—a declaration of rights—he was imprisoned in early 1961 for helping to organize a strike. He is the author of several critically acclaimed works, all of which were banned in South Africa during his lifetime. In the following essay, La Guma, who left South Africa for a self-imposed exile in London and then Cuba, describes the effect of apartheid laws on black South African...

(The entire section is 4448 words.)

Richard Rive (essay date 1977)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Rive, Richard. “Black Poets of the Seventies.” English in Africa 4, no. 1 (1977): 47-54.

[In the following essay, Rive—a South African fiction writer and playwright—argues that the urban Black and Colored South African protest poets occupied a different political and literary position than that of their predecessors in the 1950s and 1960s. The essay pays particular attention to the early work of Oswald Mtshali, Mongane Wally Serote, and Sipho Sepamla, examining the influence of American writers from the Harlem Renaissance, the white South African liberal literary tradition exemplified by the works of Alan Paton, and the extra-literary concerns of censorship, exile, and the...

(The entire section is 3188 words.)

Bessie Head (essay date April 1979)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Head, Bessie. “Social and Political Pressures That Shape Literature in Southern Africa.” World Literature Written in English 18, no. 1 (April 1979): 20-6.

[In the following autobiographical essay, Head describes the ways in which her works reflect “the whole spectrum of Southern African preoccupations—refugeeism, racialism, patterns of evil, and the ancient Southern African historical dialogue.” Denied a passport to return to South Africa, the exiled writer settled in neighboring Botswana, where she lived and wrote until her death in 1986.]

In some inexplicable way the South American writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, captured the whole soul of ancient...

(The entire section is 2841 words.)

Jan Bekker (essay date 1995)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bekker, Jan. “Poets' Reactions to Apartheid Laws.” In Conscience, Consensus, and Crossroads in Law: Eighth Round Table on Law and Semiotics, edited by Roberta Kevelson, pp. 27-44. New York: Peter Lang, 1995.

[In the following essay, Bekker provides an overview of apartheid legislation and cites poetry by writers such as Mongane Wally Serote, Oswald Mtshali, Sipho Sepamla, Modikwe Dikobe, and Can Themba as responses to unjust laws and descriptions of life under apartheid.]


This paper compares and contrasts concepts created by apartheid laws with the language in which African poets expressed themselves about the effects of these...

(The entire section is 5697 words.)