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Victor Dlamini

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Live Podcast with Breyten Breytenbach and Emmanuel Dongala

Emmanuel DongalaBreyten Breytenbach

“Culture” is one of those words that can conjure up so many meanings – yet on close observation these meanings often lose their power, and fail to communicate something tangible.

During the Time of the Writer Festival held at the coastal city of Durban, South Africa, earlier this year, I had the honour of sitting down in front of a live audience to chat to Emmanuel Dongala and Breyten Breytenbach about “changing cultures”. They provided some fascinating views on this important topic.

Emmanuel and Breyten are two writers from the continent that are held in high esteem throughout the literary world. Both men have carved careers that connect the Franco- and Anglophone worlds – but that is only a part of their gifts to those who love art. Breyten is the outstanding Afrikaans poet of his generation, and Emmanuel is a leading chemist. They have both had first hand experience of exile, forced by political instability to leave their home countries and settle in foreign lands. The “mobility” of culture, and its ability to resist or yield to change, is one of the things that received their attention during our conversation.

(Prior to this ‘live’ interview, I have published interviews with each separately: click here for the interview with Breyten; and here for the interview with Emmanuel.)

One of the questions that I asked them was whether in fact we could begin talking of the “fiction of culture”, given that the concept remains so elusive to pin down. For me this discussion is important because Africa has given the world some of its most cherished arts: much contemporary music can trace its roots to this continent, and the visual arts have drunk deeply from Africa’s creative well. Join me, Breyten and Emmanuel – as well as Zimbabwean poet Charles Mungoshi, who puts in a few unplanned cameo appearances – on The Victor Dlamini Literary Pocast, live from the Time of the Writer:

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