Eyewitness News on 5 May 2015

Harlem (A Dream Deferred) by the African American poet Langston Hughes is often quoted in different contexts. The words of the poem are bent and reshaped around many instances where we question failing dreams, once full of vigour and promise and now overdue or postponed, when it seems that everything is shifting under our feet. To ask what happens to this dream, as Hughes does, is to question how reality has jaded, sobered or changed our perception of what was once possible, meaningful, or even necessary.

Reviewing Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying (1995), South African-born academic Grant Farred questions how Mda was already mourning the post-apartheid state, so soon after the onset of democracy. Two decades later, it seems we are turning on the same question, and in many ways are mourning the dream of the ‘new’ South Africa and its ‘rainbow nation’ metaphor.

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