Reliving the Dark Days of Apartheid
Many were persecuted, detained, tortured and killed. Whilst the apartheid era is a nightmare that ended twenty years ago the memories of it are still remembered so vividly by many. For some, the trauma is ineradicable but for others documentation of it through song, poetry and books keeps the memories green. ‘Learning to Fly’, a short story by Christopher Hope and ‘Freedom’ , a poem by Afzal Moolla, give informative insight on the injustices of apartheid , but it is their differences in tone, style and diction that keeps a keen interest on the audience. It is quite clear and obvious that Hope drives the story through a creative use of language and diction which is significant in retelling the story. ‘Learning to fly is’ told with exaggeration and dramatic descriptions like “Du Preez reached up with his desk ruler and knocked off the beret revealing a bald head gleaming in the overhead fluorescent light”. It is such language and diction that makes the story comical and absurd, however, this does not take away from the message intended to be conveyed but accurately and interestingly presents the ridicule and mockery that the servants of the apartheid government inflicted on black political detainees. It is in this sense that I agree with David Medalie’s comments because in truth, these detainees were beaten, given electric shocks, made to sit on imaginary chairs amongst other demoralizing treatment. The introduction of ‘learning to fly starts off in a fairy-tale-like way, “Long ago in the final days of the old regime…” The story ends in a similar style too. The style in which the apartheid era is presented, continues in these creative and liberated way of apprehending reality, perhaps to highlight the peculiar qualities of the type of society formed by the apartheid system. In the poem however, the style is more revolutionary and not much detail about the past is given. In this sense unlike the sanguine poem, the story can be...
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