Prosaperspektiewe op politieke geweld : John Miles en Abraham Phillips
Kgomo, Catherine Madiate
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The decade of the eighties was a period of unprecedented resistance to apartheid as well as unprecedented violence in South Africa. Political violence and the struggle by blacks/coloureds caused many deaths during the years of the apartheid rule. This work revises critical assumptions about the role that the South African regime played to stir up violence in the country. The South African Police were in the forefront in carrying out instructions given to them by their senior officials. The 1976 school riots is one example, where black/coloured children were shot and killed in large numbers. John Miles and Abraham Philips's novels are filled with violent incidents that contribute to a portrait of blacks and coloureds as miserable creatures, whose aspirations are destructive delusions. Despite the shared theme, the ultimate effect of the violence in the novels to the reader is not uniform. My introductory chapter provides background information on the roots of the violence in the three texts that are intertwined. The brutality of the South African police on blacks/coloureds is emphasized by both authors. Miles is a white man from the privileged people. He writes about a black policeman who was assaulted by his white colleagues. Phillips is a coloured and he writes about the mysterious death of his brother, allegedly murdered by the police. White on black/coloured violence and black on black violence, as well as coloured on coloured violence was provoked by the government of the day. Apartheid forced blacks and coloureds to resist the regime, causing conflict, aggression, anger, hatred, resistance, resentment and intimidation amongst people of different races. Chapter II, Ill and IV discuss the codes of violence in the three texts explicitly. The concepts apartheid, police, racism, fire, misuse of alcohol are some of the aspects discussed in the chapters aforesaid. These concepts are synonymous in the three texts, the codes are intertextual. Chapter V discusses the historical background of the black/coloured people under the oppression of the South African government. A comparison of the texts investigates the motivation of the violence to determine whether it is realistic, in comparison with the South African history during the years of apartheid. People of different races could not live, pray, play, go to school together and get married to each other. In each of the novels there are victim(s) whose cases are differently treated according to race. The white victim's case is treated differently from the black and coloured victims. The two coloured men who killed the white man were imprisoned and later hanged in Pretoria Central Prison (Erfenis van die noodlot). The black victim in Kroniek uit die doofpot is murdered. His death as well as his wife's death is a mystery. The perpetrators are never found. In Die verdwaalde land the victim is a coloured whose murderers are not found, although there is evidence. These victims were discriminated against because of the colour of their skin. Lastly there is a summary of the three texts in a rubrical form, categorising forms of violence. All texts address themes of politically motivated violence in South Africa. What is most significant are the different techniques each author uses in depicting the brutality of the prevailing regime's authoritarianism and dictatorship. These authors were ignored and denied the opportunity of writing about such controversial issues, during the apartheid era, and only in the 90's were they able to publish their works without police harassment. According to Miles this novel, Kroniek uit die doofpot, is based on realities. He hopes to have the victims' death resolved one day. Phillips unlike Miles, pleads to all South Africans to be one nation. He believes that Mandala's imprisonment for twenty eight years is evidence that he was set free to relieve all those who were oppressed by the chains of subservience. Both authors' visions and hopes are a dream come true in the New South Africa. Some changes are being effected. Phillips in Die verdwaalde land concludes by saying that nations of different cultures, traditions, norms and colour need to respect each other, so that the blacks/coloureds can see that their struggle was not in vain. South Africans can do away with violence.
- Humanities