Wozanazo : a bio-bibliographical survey of twentieth-century Black South African women writers
The canon of South African literature, as shaped by publishers, academics and past government education policies, reflects dominant race, class, language and gender biases. Knowledge of large areas of South African literature is still limited by such biases. This research focuses on and seeks to redress some of the silences surrounding Black South African Women writers and their texts. Working within the bounds of a literary canon defined by an established hierarchy and a system of binary opposites, the research deals with denied existence using the terms 'Black', 'South African' and 'Women' as tactical tools to rewrite history and repossess, revalue and reposition identity and knowledge. These terms are not intended to act as indicators of static or essential being and are used provisionally. It is hoped that the research will provide the means for new and continued interrogation of meaning within and beyond the labels and categories I have used. Prompted by an obvious lack of secondary reference material on Black South African Women writers, the research was developed as a reference source. It takes the form of a biobibliographical survey of Black South African Women writers from the first 'known' published Woman writer to the present day. The survey includes texts written in African languages as a conscious attempt to overcome the inequalities and silences promoted through the priority given to English-language texts within the South African literary canon. While Black South African Women's writing does not have a tradition in the canonical sense, the survey illustrates that it does have a past, a present and a future. It is guided by a notion of recovery and an attempt to begin a process of preservation that will hopefully continue and expand. The research aims to encourage a return to the original texts which would not otherwise be 'known'. It is thereby hoped that it will foster a greater critical awareness of Black South African Women's writing. The emphasis on both auto/biographical and bibliographical data is considered important In enabling the development of a better understanding of the way in which Black South African Women writers and their writing emerge from and intervene in specific and diverse contexts, public and private. The greater aim of the research is to provide a resource which will help us explore and begin to theorise that which resists, decentres, transforms and operates beyond the limitations set by established hierarchical polarities.