Novel depicts abuses in ANC’s MK camps

Mandla Langa
Mandla Langa

MANDLA Langa’s latest gripping novel, The Texture of Shadows, should be read as a cautionary tale, the author warned on his visit to Port Elizabeth yesterday.

The celebrated Durban-born writer has set The Texture of Shadows in South Africa in 1989 – a time when iron-handed or corrupt security forces, Umkhonto weSizwe training camps and rumours of Nelson Mandela’s release made headlines daily.

The novel slices uncomfortably close to the bone in its depiction of abuses which took place in the ANC’s MK camps.

Perhaps it should be read as a cautionary tale, Langa said. “These things happened and . . . we must be careful never to repeat it.

“The ANC took ownership of the less than palatable happenings in the camps and it is a sign of the maturity of our democracy that the book has been accepted,” he said, adding that former defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu spoke at the launch of the book in Johannesburg last year.

“She was very gracious about it, although I am sure that a lot of people in positions of power will make of it whatever they will.”

Langa was reluctant to draw a parallel between fiction and fact, although his own part in the struggle from 1976 onwards give him an insider’s knowledge.

-Gillian McAinsh

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