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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Presentation Details

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'Welcome to the World of our Humanity': 'Affirmations of Humanness in the work of Selected Black South African Writers'

Rob Gaylard.

In spite of postmodern (and other) assaults on humanism and its assumptions, the concept of the human as a constitutive and unifying factor has been and is central to much South African black writing. This paper looks briefly at the roots of what has been variously described as 'ubuntu' or 'African humanism', and explores its continuing presence in writings by black South Africans ranging from Es'kia Mphahlele to recent novels by Zakes Mda and Phaswane Mpe.


Rob Gaylard  (South Africa)
Lecturer in English
Department of English
University of Stellenbosch

I am Zimbabwean by birth, studied at the universities of Natal, Rhodes (both in South Africa) and Exeter (UK), and have taught in the English Department at Stellenbosch for the last 20 years, specialising in South African literature and the short story.

  • Humanism
  • Ubuntu
  • African Humanism
  • South African black writers
Person as Subject
  • Mphahlele, Es'kia Mda, Zakes Mpe, Phaswane

(30 min Conference Paper, English)