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Ga ke Modisa, by Sabata-mpho Mokae
Ga ke Modisa is a Setswana proverbial phrase. The English equivalent is “I am not his (my brother’s) keeper”. The story is about two brothers; the younger one being a small town newspaper editor and the older brother being the mayor in the same town. The story is set in the town of Christiana in the North West. In this, his first installment of fiction, the decorated journalist Sabata-mpho Mokae reveals his genius in his language and storytelling.
Mokae is Sol Plaatje scholar and he is also the author of The Story of Sol Plaatje – a biography of the struggle hero and African titan.
Sarcophagus is a novella which follows the trials and tribulations of a poor family that experiences one tragedy after another. The story is narrated by a nameless, faceless narrator. Telling this story to a young boy who seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere and keeps asking the narrator to please finish. The setting is a village called Sekhing, a real village in the North West province. The family is comprised of five members: mom, dad and three children. The father is a migrant labourer and spends the majority of his time away from home. He dies fairly early in the story, and his older son steps up, against his mother’s objections, and becomes the breadwinner. Things go downhill very quickly from this point. The young breadwinner struggles to cope with his responsibilities, the mother suffers depression and the younger boy runs away from home. In the end the pain becomes too much and the mother kills herself and her youngest child. There is an interesting surprise in the ending. The narrator reveals the reason why he has chosen to tell him the story of that family, and it is a nice plot twist.
Walking the Road of Death
“Peter Horn is not only a distinguished scholar and poet, but also an accomplished short story writer who understands the complexities of a demanding genre. He approaches his creative work with skill and insight, moulding his material into a variety of forms. Some of his pieces have clearly been shaped by an intensity of sharply focused passion. Other stories rely on the effects of a teasing, wry humour. Still other narratives become incandescent as he uncovers corrupt political motives or distortions of justice. Then again, his short fiction may be sceptical and mildly outrageous, playing knowingly with the reader’s preconceptions or potentially lazy expectations.” Merle Williams
Peter Horn has published seven volumes of poetry, Voices from the Gallows, Ophir (1969); Walking through our Sleep, Ravan Press (1974); Silence in Jail, Scribe Press (1979); The Civil War Cantos (1987); Poems 1964-1989, Ravan Press (1991); An Axe in the Ice, COSAW (1992); The River that Connect us to the Past, Mayibuye (1996). He has published two collections of short stories, My Voice is Under Control Now, Kwela (1999) and Walking the Road of Death, Geko Publishing (2015), and a collection of essays, Writing my Reading: Essays on Literary Politics in South Africa, Rodopi Press (1994). Most of his works were banned by the apartheid regime.
Horn is a professor of literature at the University of the Witwatersrand.