Meet your writers: Achmat Dangor

Ricardo Teixeira

Renowned South African author and award-winning poet Achmat Dangor visited the University of Pretoria on 15 February to discuss his latest novel Dikeledi. It is the eleventh book by the author and shares many themes with his most notable novel, Bitter Fruit. According to the author, the novel “tells the story of a number of young people fighting oppression, told through the minds of three women”, members of a wide-spread family during 1970s to the present; with the female characters referred to as “Dikeledi”. The characters referred to as Dikeledi tell their experiences either through their own youth or of their children, as seen with one of the characters, Julia.

The novel’s fixation on the youth comes at a time when the youth of South Africa are calling for change, in our education system and in our government. The author himself said, “The youth on this continent can be a recipe for renaissance, or disaster.” When asked about the inspiration for this novel, Mr. Dangor told us of an experience he had as a young child, witnessing the forced removal of his neighbours under the apartheid housing laws. His neighbour’s daughter, whose name was Dikeledi, yelled at the policemen in anger, vowing to hurt them one day. The rest of the novel is mostly fiction but broadly based upon Mr. Dangor’s history, growing up in a mixed family. The author stated he had no difficulty writing about the cultural difference between him and his characters, but he did struggle with the gender difference between him and his female characters.

 

Image: Richardo Teixeira          

 

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