Part 1. A Personal Introduction…
I grew up in sub-Saharan Africa reading SF from an early age, but wondering at times at the incongruity between what I was reading and the environment around me. No, there were no lions in our back-garden in Kitwe, northern Zambia, but there was little evidence of rocket-ships either. Poverty at the time was present, but not rife - or at least as far as I was aware, from my sheltered MC background!
The few indigenous stories I read, encouraged by my parents, were firmly rooted in African mythology. This European emphasis was evident at school as well. Despite being a number of years post-independence, we were still learning lists of the kings and queens of England - of great survival value in sub-tropical Africa!
South Africa was very different, deep in the throes of apartheid at the time. Lots more could be said here, but I'm focusing on SF now. I did read some 'indigenous' SF - with a massive struggle, as I was way behind the other children when it came to learning Afrikaans. It was a book called 'Swart ster oor die Karoo' - which translates as 'Black Star Over The Karoo'. (The Karoo is a semi-arid region in the south-western interior of Southern Africa.)
The book was written by an Afrikaans writer called Jan Rabie - see '://www.stellenboschwriters.com/rabijan.html.
This book alerted me to the fact that indigenous SF was possible, although the censors of 'Christian National Education' ensured that in our reading material, political subtexts were kept to a minimum.
So, of course, no black writers slipped through…
I held a writing workshop in a Cape Town school in 2004, looking at
speculative fiction with the theme 'How may the future be different in South
Africa?' A number of children submitted stories from that workshop and this was summarised in an article I have currently submitted to Probe the South African Science Fiction Society's magazine and the winning story was published recently in Probe 127 (2005). The South African Science Fiction Society's website is at www.sfsa.org.za/ and a copy of the article can be read here.
Nick Wood - July/August 2005
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