Heart of Redness by: Zakes Mda

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The Heart of Redness by Zakes Mda is far different from any other novel that we were assigned to read for apartheid in South Africa class. I had quite a love/hate relationship for the book, for it intrigued me, but I had to read it far too fast and don’t think that I got the true value of the book as I speed-read it. The first thing I noticed about the novel was of course the colorful cover, but when I thought about the title long enough I noticed that it sounded vaguely familiar. I had to read the Heart of Darkness while in high school, and not until I researched the book a little on the internet, was I able to actually correlate the title between the two. Apparently, the title Heart of Redness is actually an allusion to the Heart of Darkness by presenting an opposite presentation of the themes.

Heart of Redness goes into the past of tribal life and opens our eyes into another side of South Africa. Upon reading the first page, the reader is introduced to two categories of people: believers v. nonbelievers. Apparently, the believers valued the history of the past and carry out the message of the teenage prophetess Nongquwase by burning the crops and killing the cattle which would supposedly drive away the English back to the ocean through ancestral powers, but this causes conflicts for the nonbelievers who blame the believers for the starvation of their people, the amaXhosa. Despite the fact that this happened long ago, the descendants of these two groups of people got split into two and animosity still occurs between them in present day South Africa. Even the color red, which is used upon the title of the book, signifies a schism between the two groups of people. So one of the groups see the color red as signification of respect for traditional beliefs, while for the other group, it signifies darkness which is another allusion to the title “heart of Darkness”. This is a society’s conflict between modern urban life and past civilization and a valued...
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