Multiphrenic Identities and Cultural Theory in Post-Apartheid Literary Adaptations: Reflections on Ramadan Suleiman’s Film Version of Njabulo Simakhale Ndebele’s Fools

Addamms Mututa, Keyan Tomaselli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In both apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa, literary texts have been important sites of cultural enquiry. They both historicise culture and allow new theoretical frames. However, they are also sites of fragmented, overpopulated, multisensorial memories and the difficulties of their articulation. This article focuses on Ramadan Suleiman’s, Fools, an adaptation of Njabulo Ndebele’s novel by the same title, as an important site for examining cultural theory occurring at the juncture of apartheid literature and post-apartheid literary criticism. We argue that while the film is a figurative cartographical sketch of the apartheid ‘world’ narrated in the novel, its protagonist functions as an avenue of ‘discharging’ specific ideas of identity crisis in the post-apartheid cultural world. It angles towards multiphrenia as a productive frame to theorise the protagonist’s jumbled identity, drawing from the existing critique of both the text and the film. We conclude that, through this overwhelmed identity, Fools offers a sui generis paradigm of new possibilities in post-apartheid cultural criticism that is usable in both literary and film criticism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-68
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Writing
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Fools
  • multiphrenia
  • Njabulo Ndebele
  • post-apartheid culture
  • Ramadan Suleiman
  • South African cinema

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory

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