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ERIC Number: EJ891491
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Mar
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1085-4568
Rainbow Nation's "Ubuntu": Discovering Distinctness as a Spectrum through South African Literature
Smith, Colin Bridges
Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, v14 p41-47 Mar 2007
Apartheid created more than physical distances between color groups; South Africa is made up of people with often separated minds. Leaders of the democratic government draw from and modify the ancient African tribal value called "ubuntu" as the philosophic basis for their cultural strategy of unification. Sandra Chait has pointed out that much of white writing in South Africa has, in its search to understand the country's past, inadvertently blamed essential human nature for the wrongs of apartheid. All savagery is ascribed to "that ultimate avenger, the betrayed God who seeks to wreak His revenge" in order to justify white brutality in Africa as an instinctive response to violence of the other. This ideology, she concludes, is an alibi to excuse whites from responsibility for the past and inevitably postpone reconciliation between white and black South Africans. In this article, the author studied three novels--Antjie Krog's "Country of My Skull," Nadine Gordimer's "Burger's Daughter," and J.M. Coetzee's "Disgrace." The author chose these novels precisely because the author believes they avoid such alibis. In them, ultimately, nothing justifies the violence man is capable of inflicting on others, but is explainable only through gross violations of inherent human interrelations. To conclude, these three novels gesture towards a necessary transition to social responsibility in South Africa by avoiding any self-consoling alibis and advocating individual commitment to the social and political situations in the country. Inasmuch as Krog, Gordimer, and Coetzee promote such ubuntu-based views of humanity, being interdependence and mutual accountability, they move to overcome the individualistic ideologies inherent in the European tradition they are often associated with, and become uniquely South African.
Frontiers Journal. Dickinson College P.O. Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013. Tel: 717-254-8858; Fax: 717-245-1677; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Africa