South Africa's literary and artistic community celebrates Andre Brink

Image used courtesy: Victor Dlamini

South Africa's artistic community has come out to reflect on one of our fallen literary giants - bi-lingual author Andre Brink.

Brink - who died at the age of 79 years - had been in poor health and died whilst on a KLM flight from Amsterdam back to South Africa on Friday evening. He had been returning from Belgium where he had been awarded an honorary doctorate there. His book _Kennis van die Aand _was the first Afrikaans book to be banned by the South African apartheid regime. One of Brink's editors, Ettienne Bloemhof of NB Publishers speaks highly of Brink's contributions to protest against the apartheid system:

It's a huge loss, not only to Afrikaans literature, but to South Africa as a whole. He's a person who had courage in his convictions and was very political. His 1973 book Kennis van die aand was the first Afrikaans book to be banned. He and his peers used Afrikaans as a language to fight apartheid and his work advanced Afrikaans to the level of being an international fighting language, more than it had ever been

Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State Professor Jonathan Jansen speaks of Brink's 'cool factor' during his formative years:

I've never met him except through his books because as a teenager in high school, it was the cool thing to do to read or become familiar with his books. Very few young people today know that he was amongst the first people in Afrikaans literature to actually have his books banned by the government. We sort of liked the anti-establishment figure that he presented at the time. I think his novels are very powerful in so far as they challenge things like 'is it an acceptable relationship, what are the boundaries for human interaction?' I've always found a politicality in his work - a sort of challenge - and a sense of hope of something that lies beyond what we can see in our immediate lives. I think his work is timeless and that government Departments of Education should consider prescribing his books, particularly in the year of his death.

Meanwhile, Redi Tlhabi - who had spent time with Brink at the Franschhoek Literary Festival in May last year - reflects on his social significance:

I think that what defines the soul of the nation is the art that that nation produces, the artists - be they writers, painters or singers - they tell you about a nation's journey, they tell you about a nation's upheaval, turmoil and triumph. Artists take risks throughout the years and many artists cannot separate the personal from the political and I think that Andre Brink is one of those.

Speaking on the Redi Tlhabi Show, veteran photographer Victor Dlamini noted his taste for covering taboo subjects. Dlamini and Brink also had a close friendship:

I think for me, what's significant is the extent to which he inserted into literary conversation those subjects that were deeply taboo. You talk for example about looking on darkness - here is the story of a black actor, who is going to be executed for the murder of his white lover. This is a subject about which South Africans were deeply uncomfortable. Sex across the colour line has always been deeply problematic amongst South Africans, but particularly so at the height of apartheid. One of the things that I love about Andre is how he wrote so patiently about it: the sex was raw and real and I think that going to Paris liberated his own sense of what could be put on the page.


This article first appeared on 702 : South Africa's literary and artistic community celebrates Andre Brink


CapeTalk welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the CapeTalk community a safe and welcoming space for all.

CapeTalk reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

CapeTalk is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
#ANC54 delayed start, registration still underway

#ANC54 delayed start, registration still underway

EWN's Gaye Davis reports live from the 54th ANC National Conference at Nasrec which was set to kick off at 9am Saturday morning.

Possible collapse of ANC conference not far-fetched - Mathekga

Possible collapse of ANC conference not far-fetched - Mathekga

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says there are sufficient legal grounds on which to interdict the ANC's elective conference.

The pros and cons of net neutrality explained

The pros and cons of net neutrality explained

There are concerns about scrapping network neutrality in the United States. MyBroadband's Jan Vermeulen explains what that means.

ANC Free State leader confesses to past vote-rigging, had his Damascus moment

ANC Free State leader confesses to past vote-rigging, had his Damascus moment

ANC Free State deputy chair, Thabo Manyoni, says court outcomes today are an indication of how rife vote-rigging in the ANC is.

UCT chemical engineer grad on how he overcame depression and nabbed his degree

UCT chemical engineer grad on how he overcame depression and nabbed his degree

UCT chemical engineer graduate Matimba Mabonda says students who are feeling overwhelmed by university life should seek support.

#ANC54 for dummies: Understanding the voting delegate numbers

#ANC54 for dummies: Understanding the voting delegate numbers

EWN reporter Clement Manyathela helps us understand how the the numbers have been affected by the Friday court rulings.

Popular articles
Fund manager lays criminal charges against former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste

Fund manager lays criminal charges against former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Benguela Global Fund Managers Chief Investment Officer Zwelakhe Mnguni.

France exploring ways to assist City of Cape Town with water crisis

France exploring ways to assist City of Cape Town with water crisis

Xanthea Limberg says no formal agreement has been reached but it looks forward to talks and learning more from France.

'ANC may split if Dlamini-Zuma is elected leader'

'ANC may split if Dlamini-Zuma is elected leader'

Political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni sat down with Ray White to discuss the future of the ANC.

'This puts pressure on Jacob Zuma to vacate office earlier'

'This puts pressure on Jacob Zuma to vacate office earlier'

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Daniel Silke, Political Economy Analyst at Political Futures Consultancy.

Predictably awesome new Nando's ad reminds South Africans ‘we can fix our sh$t’

Predictably awesome new Nando's ad reminds South Africans ‘we can fix our sh$t’

Watch the Guptas pack their bags and run in Nando's inspiring new advertisement.