Connections: George Orwell and Zakes Mda

“In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification.”

  • George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

“She sings in glaring colours. In violent colours. Colours of gore. Colours of today and of yesterday. Dreamy colours. Colours that paint nightmares on barren landscapes. She haunts yesterday’s reefs and ridges with redness. And from these a man who is great at naming emerges. He once named ten rivers. Now he rides wildly throughout kwaXhosa, shouting at the top his voice, declaring to everyone who cares to listen, “Finally I have pacified Xhosaland!”

Pacified homesteads are in ruins. Pacified men register themselves as pacified labourers in emerging towns. Pacified men in their emaciated thousands. Pacified women remain to tend the soil and build pacified families. When pacified men return, their homesteads have been moved elsewhere, and crammed into tiny pacified villages. Their pacified fields have become rich settler farmlands.”

  • Zakes Mda, The Heart of Redness
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