Mhambi has been redeployed.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Athol Fugard joins the worried chorus

Athol Fugard has become the latest in a long line of famous South African writers, poets and playrights (many of whom with strong anti-aparthied credentials) to express his doubts about the way South Africa is heading.

He has a new play out - Victory - which has premiered in Bath.

Fugard has told the BBC how a series of violent burglaries at his home inspired him to write his latest work.

Victory, according to the BBC, paints a bleak picture of modern South Africa. It centres on a violent burglary of an elderly white widower committed by two black teenagers, Freddie and Victoria.

Fugard told BBC World Service's The Ticket programme that he took the theme after his own home was burgled on four occasions in the last two years - the last of which involved someone he trusted.

Last year authors like Andre Brink and Rian Malan lamented the parlous state of law and order in South Africa. Malan saw sad decay in the countries future. But Brink saw something far more ominous - slaughter.

Nadine Gordimer was mugged in her home, but she stayed positive, preferring to blame the violence on the government for not helping the poor.

J M Coetzee meanwhile immigrated, and when asked why, declined to comment, saying leaving ones country is a difficult thing to do and a personal matter. He now resides in Australia, but still engages with South African issues.

Pessimistic yes, but do courageous things

Fugard a while ago revealed that he is a big fan - like Mhambi - of Camus. In fact its hard to believe that any lefty South African can not feel, given his writing and personal history, some natural attraction to Camus. Camus informs Fugards attitute to life: a state of courageous pessimism. Said Fugard of Camus:

The concept that comes to mind immediately -- it remains as true for me today as it did for me back then -- what I think he defines at some point in one of his notebooks as “courageous pessimism”. The fact that the condition is ultimately pessimistic -- the one that we face as human beings in a hostile world, in a hostile universe -- but that we need courage. Given courage, there are certain things we can do which gives us dignity.

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