Mandla Langa

Literary Birthday – 31 March – Mandla Langa


Seven Quotes 

  1. I am somewhat familiar with chaos, having had a ringside seat in places where it has unleashed itself and, if truth be told, caused a little bit of it in my days of youth.
  2. Storytelling is about imparting something that is indestructible. Once you tell your story, it’s yours, but now it also conjures up images in the imagination of the recipients and plays a role in the telling of their stories.
  3. I have learned that people at the bottom use others’ bodies to climb to the top.
  4. Each generation always imagines that it has a patent on truth. We thought that we were the bees’ knees and knew it all. We did have those icons that we invoked but we also thought that had we lived under those conditions in those earlier years we could have sorted things out then and there. I was fortunate in that I could straddle a number of periods and generations. I could relate to those who were both where I was as a youth and transpose that to where others were as old people.
  5. Where we were growing up in Durban there was always that mythical heroic figure of the ANC guerrilla – someone who could infiltrate back into the country and teach military warfare and train cadres. When you heard that one of them had been captured that increased their heroism for us. When I left the country and met some of those people who had been mythologised it was possible to write about the reality and myth of what passes as generational conflict.
  6. The strength of a political movement derives from its internal capacity to deal with its most horrible hour.
  7. [South African literature is]getting younger, it’s getting brasher, it’s getting much more inventive, dealing with themes you would never have dreamt of. The political circumstance in South Africa has thrown up, to my mind, a lot of creativity.

Mandla Langa is a South African poet, short story writer, and novelist. He won The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in Africa (2009) for his novel, Lost Colours Of The Chameleon. His latest book is Dare Not Linger, the story of Nelson Mandela’s presidential years.

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by Amanda Patterson

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