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13 March 2018 Photo Edwin Mthimkhulu
Solomon Mahlangu inspires UFS alumnus first Sesotho book
Ace Moloi questions and delves into the concept of freedomin Tholwana Tsa Tokoloho

Tholwana Tsa Tokoloho is the title of Ace Moloi’s anthology of short stories and the name of one of the 14 stories in the book. The anthology is the first book in Sesotho published by the three-time author.

On Friday, 16 March 2018, Tholwana Tsa Tokoloho, an Art Fusion Literature product, will make its debut public appearance during a public reading at the University of the Free State’s Equitas Auditorium at 17:30.

Moloi’s first literary offering was In Her Fall Rose A Nation which was published in 2013 during his final-year as a Communication Science student at the university. In 2016, Moloi published Holding My Breath, which was praised widely for stirring emotions in readers who related to the heart-wrenching narrative of losing a mother. It was only this year that the author managed to achieve his teenage goal of establishing himself as a vernacular author.

Solomon Mahlangu, an African National Congress freedom fighter and Umkhonto we Sizwe militant who was convicted of murder and hanged in 1979, was the inspiration behind the anthology. Mahlangu inspired the Tholwana Tsa Tokoloho story, which is the story of the selflessness of a captured guerrilla hero in the face of police torture and his eventual death by hanging. It represents Mahlangu and those who suffered during the struggle for liberation. 

“My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom,” are the supposed last words uttered by Mahlangu that inspired the book’s title. Tholwana Tsa Tokoloho means “the fruits of freedom” in Sesotho. For Moloi, writing in the vernacular symbolises the fruits of freedom. “I’m trying to write in a revolutionary spirit, in Sesotho, because we haven’t done that. We have not seriously interrogated political concepts in Sesotho or in any native language,” he said.

Graduate unemployment, violent crime, and sports are some of the other topics tackled in the book. These act as a catalyst for debates over the evidence of ‘the fruits of freedom’ in post-1994 South Africa. 

News Archive

Prof Antjie Krog speaks on verbalising revulsion and the collusion of men
2015-06-26

From the left are Prof Lucius Botes, UFS: Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities; Prof Helene Strauss, UFS: Department of English; Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, UFS: Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies; Prof Antjie Krog, UCT: Department Afrikaans and Dutch; Dr Buhle Zuma, UCT: Department of Psychology. Both Prof Strauss and Dr Zuma are partners in the Mellon Foundation research project.

“This is one of the bitterest moments I have ever endured. I would rather see my daughter carried away as a corpse than see her raped like this.”

This is one of 32 testimonies that were locked away quietly in 1902. These documents, part of the NC Havenga collection, contain the testimonies of Afrikaner women describing their experiences of sexual assault and rape at the hands of British soldiers during the South African War.

This cluster of affidavits formed the foundation of a public lecture that Prof Antjie Krog delivered at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus on Tuesday 23 June 2015. The lecture, entitled ‘They Couldn’t Achieve their Goal with Me: Narrating Rape during the South African War’, was the third instalment in the Vice-Chancellor’s Lecture Series on Trauma, Memory, and Representations of the Past. The series is hosted by Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies at the UFS, as part of a five-year research project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Verbalising revulsion

The testimonies were taken down during the last two months of the war, and “some of the women still had marks and bruises on their bodies as evidence,” Prof Krog said. The victims’ words, on the other hand, struggled to express the story their bodies told.

What are the nouns for that which one sees? What words are permissible in front of men? How does one process revulsion verbally? These are the barriers the victims – raised with Victorian reserve – faced while trying to express their trauma, Prof Krog explained.

The collusion of men

When the war ended, there was a massive drive to reconcile the Boers and the British. “Within this process of letting bygones be bygones,” Prof Krog said, “affidavits of severe violations by white men had no place. Through the collusion of men, prioritising reconciliation between two white male hierarchies, these affidavits were shelved, and, finally, had to suffer an embargo.”

“It is only when South Africa accepted a constitution based on equality and safety from violence,” Prof Krog said, “that the various levels of deeply-rooted brutality, violence, and devastation of men against the vulnerable in society seemed to burst like an evil boil into the open, leaving South African aghast in its toxic suppurations. As if, for many decades, we did not know it was there and multiplied.”

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