Eurocentrism in hybridity : a critique of Charles Van Onselen's "The Seed is Mine: the life of Kas Maine, a South African Sharecropper 1894-1985"

Brian Worsfold


For decades, contributors to the literary discourses of South Africa, writers, critics and commentators alike, worked to end apartheid. Now that apartheid is over, new discourses must evolve. For this reason, at this critical time of transition, all literary works coming out of South Africa are crucial to the continuity of South African literatures. Charles van Onselen's work would be a remarkable social history at any time but, coming as it does in the immediate post-apartheid period, it takes on a special relevance. This fictionalised social history which records the survival of a MaSotho peasant farmer in the western Transvaal during the pre-apartheid and apartheid periods gives a unique insight into an area of human existence that remains virtually unrecorded and only touched on in Sol T. Plaatje's Native Life in South Africa, written in 1910. This minutely-documented account of Kas Maine's story reflects the human condition of the Black population in rural South Africa as the screws of proxy European colonisation are tightened by South Africa's neo-colonialists. More significantly, van Onselen reconstructs the rural Black South African man whom apartheid not only degraded but also concealed from view. To what extent, however, is this reconstruction that of a White South African and what are his reasons for producing a model at this moment in South Africa's history?

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Copyright (c) 2000 Brian Worsfold

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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 1576-6357

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