Tuesday, 20 October 2015


The Growth of Free State Black Writing (2002)

Review by I. Mzwandile Soqaga

It is congenial to appreciate the crucial role and the puissance which literature has played in the lives of many people over the years globally.  Writers with their intriguing literary contribution and their books too have made the world effervescent.  Their sterling work which they produced to keep the world informed and literate patently deserve to be commendable.  From the salubrious Charles Dickens, Bronte sisters: Emily, Charlotte and Anne, Christie Agatha, D.H Lawrence, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Es’kia Mphahlele, Lewis Nkosi, Buchi Emecheta, Bessie Head, Peter Abrahams, TonI Morrison, Nadine Gordimer etc.

Apparently, it is quite interesting to find books that are written with profound enthusiasm being well entrenched, classic and exhilarating to whet the appetite.  For years quality writers have displayed enormous dexterity to cultivate books that are awe-inspiring.  To start with, the book “The Growth of Free State Black Writing – A collection of essays on Bolaji, Qoopane, Lebuso and Thaisi is one of the books that continue to impact magnificently in the world of letters.   The book put together by Bareng Mogorosi is actually the very original (first) of the series.

Decisively, the book constitutes part of major studies, debates and critical general arguments in literature.  Solely, it encompasses the credible analyses of writers and their books or their contribution in the world of letters.  Convincingly, many literary pundits will acquiesce to that – the book it epitomises genuine literature.  However, to some in literary field who are tenaciously ready in advancing their infelicitous insanity to discourage others to grow, it can be possibly difficult for them to accept or commend any achievement produced in this wise.  Recently I observed and interestingly followed on one social media platform one of the debates about literature emanating from certain "writers" about the aspects of veritable literature. 

I was surprised to learn that there are some mischievous elements who obviously intend to hoodwink others about literary genre of literature.  To my amazement I was wholly astonished to understand that to them, it is perhaps incorrect for a journalist or a columnist to organise his/her literary work into a book form.  They continued to offer their dupe explanation blended with sophism at how literature should be.  The sophistry, unambiguously and senselessly shrugs off the involvement of book reviewers and critics in literature!  A few of them argued “That it is not worth enough for the critics to critique any literary work produced by a particular writer”.

Hapless, moreover this debate was further reiterated on social network… But the simple truth known worldwide as far as proper literature is concerned is that - only a complete illiterate or an incredibly inferior writer would try to undermine the world-respected genre of literary criticism. In fact this was a mammoth blunder in genuine literature.  It was graphic that this sophistry misunderstood the crucial aspects of literature.  What they attempted to portray about literature in general was absolutely obvious that they are parochial, completely oblivious about the imperative of sundry literature.  
Again what they failed to express eloquently or extraordinary acknowledge is the fact that in the world , even in the “First World Countries” like Britain, United States of America, France, Canada etc books since were/are churned out, compiled, reviewed and critiqued in a breathtaking fashion.  For instance Charles Dickens who emerged on the literary scene in the late 1830s and soon became probably the most famous novelist in the history of English literature, his literary works are still vibrant and enjoyed by many people in the world till today.  Dickens fiercely satirised various aspects of society, including the workhouse in Oliver Twist, the failures of the legal system in Bleak House, the dehumanising in factories, education etc., in Hard Times.  However some critics have suggested that Dickens’ sentimentality blunts the impact of his satire.  In more recent years Dickens has been most admired for his novels. The same Dickens who has hundreds of books published on him examining his work and stunning impact. Also in Africa, Chinweizu for example a world respected literary critic never concealed any words in attacking what he saw as the elitism of some Nigerian authors, particularly Wole Soyinka.  That is the beauty of criticism – and how it elevates writers themselves.

The Growth of Free State Black Writing gives a clear example of how genuine literature should be approached.  The contributors demonstrate an exceptional literary prowess which is essentially pertinent in quintessential literature.  Like in Kenosi Morake essay on Lebuso’s African Renaissance: Women.  The essayist refused to be beguiled by the brilliancy of the book and provides a very vivacious critical analysis which is apposite in literature. Kenosi surely, beyond any doubts proved that it could not be delectable for the book to be eulogised because it is simply a successful work: “One will advise Lebuso to get hold of two books written by highly respected African women writers; Buchi Emecheta and Marriama Ba.  Buchi Emecheta’s book,The joys of Motherhood and Marriama Ba’s book “So long A Letter”.  Both books reveal brilliantly the horrors, frustrations, outright injustices visited on women by men in traditional African societies."

Another thrilling essay on the same book is the one on “Characterization in Bolaji’s fiction” which evinces stunning radiance of the renowned well respected bard.  “Some observers e.g. Lebuso appear to believe that Bolaji’s 'favourite characters' are more or less the same; Amos (Impossible Love) and Mashego (Ghostly Adversary).  But the truth is Bolaji succeeds in creating many characters who definitely come alive on their own terms as virtually all readers of his books will agree..."

This book is so ravishing to the point that it is written in a very exquisite way.  The essayists who contributed their essays in the book, definitely are genuine writers who eschew to be ersatz parochial sophistry in their perspective.  They illustrated their essays in a much better fashion; one will reckon their assiduous energy and their broad mindedness to make the book dynamic by including examples of such writers like Buchi Emecheta and Marriama Ba.   Specifically, sometimes to employ farcical hallucination in one’s mind, verily cause’s ignominy amongst the people, it is injudicious to judge the book by its own cover.  

The Growth of Free state Black writing is a rather old but noteworthy book in the journey of the growth of Free State Black writing.  Initially, it commences the pivotal journey of Black Literature in the Free State.  Another appealing essays that may be found in this book is that of A.M Mokhuoa on “Qoopane's Adventures in journalism”; and “The Poetry of Lebohang Thiasi”!   

This is a world class literary work celebrating Free State Black Writing - no wonder it is available in many universities world-wide. One might also note that the editor’s note bears significant testimony: “This is the first in the series celebrating, acknowledging and reviewing latest trends in Free State Black Writing.  I’m very proud to introduce this series.  Academics, lovers of literature, budding writers are invited to send articles in this wise...". Very pleasing.

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