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Justify The Enemy: Becoming Human in South Africa by Zakes Mda

Colour Me Yellow by Thuli Nhlapo
July 6, 2016
Equal But Different by Dr Judy Dlamini
July 6, 2016

Zakes Mda

J ustify the Enemy Becoming Human in South Africa

Zanemvula Kizito Gatyeni Mda (Zakes), was born in Herschel, Eastern Cape, South Africa, in 1948 to Rose Nompumelelo, a nurse, and Ashbey Peter Solomzi Mda, a school teacher, who later became a lawyer. His father was a founding member and later became the President of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) in 1947. In the 1960s, while he was still a pupil at primary school, the police would take him in to interrogate him about his father who had gone into exile. The family was forced to leave South Africa for Lesotho. Mda’s first short story Igqira lase Mvubase appeared in a youth magazine called Wamba, in 1963, when he was only 15 years old. He adopted the pen name Zakes Mda when he began writing.


Mda has,over years, emphasised how important place is to him. In creating works of fiction, he says, he always begins with an actual place and never with a story. ‘place is key. To me place is not just background for my cast of characters.’ As he builds his characters story emerges in them with that place. To illustrate this, in a discussion with Zoe Wicomb at the Edinburgh Book Festival in 2014, he explained how The Heart of Redness originated; I was driving through the Eastern Cape and I thought ,this place is so beautiful that it deserves a novel…in other words, the place told me that the story must be set here and it must be about this place. And it has happened like that with all my novels. -JU Jacobs Zake Mda is the father of literature, well that is according to me. A very insightful and difficult read. The read is thought-provoking, a blessing in disguise for writers and lovers of African literature. A writer’s guide to a successful writing career „”

T ook me quit sometime to finish this read because in my reading my perception was under transformation. It is writers like Zakes that remind us the importance of history in our countries. It is being born in South Africa that he reminds us is a blessing. He places emphasis of the beauty in our history and where we are headed.

Mda has a way of capturing your heart because he shares the importance of landscape when writing. I think because landscape gives so many meanings when writing. Landscape births characters and brings life to stories. I appreciate how he shares his experience as writer and how he links it to the significance of history. He reminds writers that their material should be found in society. He emphasises that the importance of politics, conversations, observations, and locations are very significant in writing. It because stories raise many questions to problems or challenges in Africa. Writing and stories give a voice to the voiceless.

I appreciate how he touches on the importance of reading and marketing indigenous languages in Africa. He does this because of his concern about the African identity being lost. This is a remarkable read that reminds Africans that our reading culture as Africans needs to be improved. I enjoyed reading this read and will explore the African continent. .

„ This book is a collection of non-fiction by the prolific author Zakes Mda. It showcases his role as a public intellectual with the inclusion of public lectures,essays and media articles. Mda focuses on South Africa's history and the present,identity and belonging,the art of writing, human rights, global warming and he is unable to keep silent on abuses of power.”

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