Things are not what they seem: Modisane's recently discovered short story

Gaylard R. (2010)


The unusual form and style of Modisane's hitherto unpublished short story 'All Sons of Gaika' presents the reader with various challenges. It differs in tone and style from his previously published work, and its rather contrived dialogue and somewhat obscure plot are puzzling. Is this some kind of satire, and, if so, what is the target? Thematically, the story seems (at face value) to be another examination of the tensions between tradtion and modernity, and focuses in particular on the issue of lobola ('bride-price'). The young couple at the centre of the story are at pains to distance themselves from traditional pieties. To complicate matters, a secret resistance movement is seeking recruits in the area, and our protagonist, Jason, is somehow implicated. Two security policemen are the pantomime villains of the piece, as they seek to either coopt or frame Jason. The hybrid figure of a diviner conducts a cleansing ceremony, and this is the occasion for an excursion into postcolonial metacommentary, drawing on the Prospero-Caliban topos. The story concludes with a wedding, and comes to an enigmatic conclusion. Is this is a sustained exercise in irony or mockery? How much (or how little) does it revel of the author, writing from exile in London? © 2010 Taylor & Francis.

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