Shape 8


Zur DEUTSCHEN SEITE geht es hier:
Click above to visit the German site.



Social Media


Enter your email address:


KZN Literary Tourism reviews contemporary South African fiction and poetry.  Reviews are done by academics and members of our KZN literary community (contact us if you would like to review for us).  View reviews as articles or list.

Review: A World of Their Own: A History of South African Women’s Education PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 19 October 2013 13:07

By: Meghan Healy-Clancy

Review by: Rev Dr Scott Everett Couper


Meghan Healy-Clancy eruditely grafts the macro and the micro in her book A World of Their Own: A History of South African Women’s Education.  The book chronicles the history of Inanda Seminary, a small and seemingly obscure private school for black girls that has had and continues to have a profound impact on South Africa.  Simultaneously, her book is an analysis of the manner in which the education of black girls in South Africa shaped the country during the colonial, apartheid and post-apartheid periods.  Surprisingly, the book is a seamless fusion of parochial and national histories.  Healy-Clancy tells a national history by comparing and contrasting it with the Seminary’s history, thus illuminating both.  For this reviewer, it is a mystery how Healy-Clancy can at the same time coherently present a school to be anomalous and representative.


Healy-Clancy articulates how Congregational missionaries serving the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions established Inanda Seminary in 1869 as its flagship secondary educational institution for black girls.  The school is the oldest extant high school for black girls in southern Africa.  The Seminary cooperated with its sibling school, Adams College, to produce kholwa (‘believing’) partners and families.  These families would be the harbingers of western Christian culture and religion to the Zulus and thus ‘native agency’.

Healy-Clancy’s book is not an institutional history; it is a social history.  Social history is far more sophisticated than institutional, for it requires a great deal more theory and analysis, and thus research.  Healy-Clancy satisfies the academic with a theory laden introduction wherein she introduces ‘social reproduction’.  The body of A World of Their Own is pregnant with analysis, but it is written in such a fashion that the analysis is camouflaged within an engaging narrative.  In this way, Healy-Clancy attracts and captivates the lay-person, and thus most alumnae.  By emphasising theory only in the introduction, she is strategic and merciful to most who might find five chapters of this more dense material soporific.  A beloved minister of the Congregational church, the Reverend Joseph Wing once compared underwear and theology: “When you are preaching, you should always have it on, but not in such a way that everyone can see it”.  In chapters two through five, Healy-Clancy deftly weaves rich analysis throughout her narrative in such a manner that we ‘can’t see it’.  My advice to the reader is work through the introduction; it is more than worth it.

Healy-Clancy utilises a feminist (what UKZN’s Professor Sarojini Nadar refers to as the “F-Word”) hermeneutic lens through which to interpret South Africa’s and Inanda Seminary’s educational history.  Outside academia, feminism too often has negative connotations, being perceived as anti-male or militantly pro-female.  Healy-Clancy’s feminism has no such crude binaries.  Instead, feminism is a tool by which to gain a more accurate understanding of history.


Taken Captive by Birds: a Memoir PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 31 August 2013 13:42

By Marguerite Poland
Review by Alan Muller

To refer to Marguerite Poland’s newest offering, Taken Captive by Birds, as purely a memoir would be a misnomer. While Poland has penned a work of remarkable sensitivity, Craig Ivor’s pencil lends a depth that sets this volume apart from almost all other forms of autobiography. Focusing on her childhood in The Bush, the book spans a period of roughly a decade, framed by Poland’s observations of the birds surrounding her home, Kwezintaka – the Place of Birds. Interwoven with the personal story are the myths, traditions and meanings behind birds and their names within Zulu and Xhosa culture. The book is divided into 18 chapters, each focusing on a particular species of bird whose appearance and presence can, for her, “at once recall a name, a scent, a morning full of song and exploration, an evening of sorrow, a childhood fear”.

Poland tells not only her own story but also that of her Scottish grandmother, Ninngy, who - with her love for ducks and chickens - would lead a procession of “two daschunds, sometimes the larger ginger cat, the hen and chicks and the rooster” through the garden. She also recounts the lives of her father, Jumbie, her mother, Hopie, and James Raga, “the gardener, with the large black hosepipe, dragging it looped across his shoulder”.

Poland’s reflections are tinged with sadness and longing for a time gone-by but successfully avoid becoming an exercise in lachrymose nostalgia. This memoir concerns not only a childhood and its accompanying naïveté but also the process of storytelling and the development of an authorial voice through listening to the stories of others:


Book review: James Siddall's Dystopia PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 20 July 2013 17:37

Review by Sibongiseni Dladla

James Siddall, well known South African writer, took time out to launch his new book Dystopia (MF Books) at Exclusive Books, Westville Pavilion, recently. Described by Sunday Times Fiction Awards 2013 finalist Steven Sidley as “raucous, funny, frightening and sad, Siddall’s raw pen tears into the heart of personal dysfunction.”

James Siddall was once regarded as the “golden boy of SA journalism” who also had two Comrades marathon bronzes medals under his belt and was once voted as one of the country’s most eligible bachelors by Cosmopolitan magazine.

In Dystopia, however, Siddall describes his recovery from drugs, alcohol and other sorts of abuse. The book is the reflection of his life when he was involved in the merciless world of drugs. As he remarks in his book, “The more outrageous my writing, the more alcohol-fuelled and irresponsible my behavior, the more I was lauded”.


<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 8 of 37