Two bad-time stories and a song of hope

Gagiano, A. H. (2002-08)

Please cite as follows:

Gagiano, A. 2002. Two bad-time stories and a song of hope. Literator, 23(3):161-178. doi:10.4102/lit.v23i3.348.

The original publication is available at


Using three fairly recently published South African texts – David B. Coplan’s In the Time of Cannibals – The Word Music of South Africa’s Basotho Migrants (1994); A.H.M. Scholtz’s Vatmaar – ’n Lewendagge verhaal van ’n tyd wat nie meer is nie (1995) in its English translation, A Place Called Vatmaar (2000) and Mongane (Wally) Serote’s Come and Hope with Me (1994) – this essay looks at the role such texts can play to give public expression to the voices of formerly silenced communities. The essay contends that the deep fissures in South African society require intense efforts in order to make those isolated from one another mutually intelligible. All South Africans need to broaden their cultural vocabularies. This is where texts such as novels and those containing the oral art of neglected communities can function as ‘translations’, and have profound social importance. It can be predicted that rehistoricising writings and culturally recontextualising teaching practices will continue to be required in this country, but also texts that contain the vision of a shared South African future.

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