Narrating the Environment in Zakes Mda’s The Heart of Redness

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International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS) | Volume IV, Issue X, October 2020 | ISSN 2454–6186

 Narrating the Environment in Zakes Mda’s The Heart of Redness

Nfon, Rita Gola PhD1, Mbu, Dora Nyuykighan PhD2
1Department of English, University of Ngaoundere, Cameroon
2Department of African Literature and Civilisations , University of Yaounde I, Cameroon

IJRISS Call for paper

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to underline the relationship between the postcolonial narrative and environmental consciousness from the perspective of Zakes Mda’s The Heart of Redness. In other words, the paper stresses that the postcolonial writer, far from limiting his/her engagements to political issues, broadens their research to include the place of nature in the life of the postcolonial subject. Zakes Mda’s The Heart of Redness, in line with the above assertion, romanticizes the natural environment, hinges on the interconnectivity of the human and nonhuman forces in place and, consequently, becomes a critic of environmental harm. The article, thus, investigates into the meaning of ecology and, then, defines its relation with its surrounding human species. With a tilt towards postcolonial ecocriticism’s paradigm as articulated by Arturo Escobar and a host of others, the paper analyses Mda’s environmental concerns in The Heart of Redness from four standpoints, namely: nature representation, nature-culture matrix, nature conservation, and a move towards ecological holism. In a nutshell, the essay argues that nature is an active agent to the wellbeing of the postcolonial subject and should not be abused and misused. The article contends that the development of a postcolonial space is the result of the respect for, and the sustenance of the environmental forces in place.

Key Words: Environment, Narrating, Nature/culture, Development, Postcolonial writer


Contemporary African writers and critics have been caught in the web of the environmental crisis that is characteristic of today’s global society. These literary figures use literature to respond to the ongoing predicaments of global warming, excessive excavations and the extinction of national cultures. This is a tradition to which Zakes Mda belongs. In a number of his works, he has presented a palpable environmental perspective which consists of representing nature and culture, preserving nature and relating man and nature in society. In Heart of Redness, which is my focus in this paper, Mda writes from a space that is specific ― the South African vicinity since the precolonial days. The geographical space is home to the amaXhosas ― a people divided into a multiplicity of clans, namely; amaMfeugu, amaGcaleka, amaMpondo, amaPondomise, amaGqunukhwebe and the amaGogotya. This is the space from where Mda points out his afore mentioned environmental engagements which, once more, consists of glorifying the natural world for its beauty, highlighting the entwined relation between human and other species and crying foul to the impact of the human species on the natural