A two-day international symposium titled: “Struggles for Liberation in Contemporary Southern African Literatures and Cultural Spaces”, was held on the Howard College campus.
It was hosted by Professor Lindy Stiebel of English Studies at UKZN together with her post-doctoral student Dr Danyela Demir and Professor Annika McPherson of the University of Augsburg in Germany.
Acting Dean and Head of the School of Arts Professor Donal McCracken described the symposium as ‘a intellectual powerhouse of topics and discussions’ while noting that Arts are at the core of any university which he identifies as the soul of the University.
The keynote address was delivered by Professor Arthur Hughes of the University of Ohio who spoke on: “Writing Trauma: Gender and Resistance in the Lusophone African Novel”.
Spotlighting African women and resistance in Angola and Mozambique, Hughes compared two novels: Paulina Chiziane’s Niketche: Uma História de Poligamia, and Lília Momplé’s Neighbours: The Story of a Murder in terms of over-verbalisation and under-verbalisation respectively. Through textual analyses of the two novels, he further identified emergent themes such as the emancipation of women, subordination of gender, religion and patriarchy.
‘Within the novels, patriarchy is linked with economic dependence,’ said Hughes. ‘Marriage is seen as a means of sustenance and is one of the viable options of survival. It can be said that from these two novels and their depiction of women in Angola and Mozambique, the cultural features of the past are still present currently in the form of trauma. Race and class still impede coherence.’
The symposium highlighted representations of struggles for liberation in different current artistic manifestations and questioned the extent of apartheid legacies for neighbouring countries of Angola, Mozambique and Namibia that are represented in current art in and outside South Africa; the representation of ‘border wars’ in post-2000 Southern African fiction and art, and current movements of resistance across Southern Africa that use artistic forms as tools of disruption.