Book title: Sizwe Bansi is Dead
Author: Athol Fugard
Year Premiered: 1972
Sizwe Banzi is Dead is one work of fiction and I think the famous work of fiction that narrows down its plot and thematic approach into the obnoxious rules and laws of the South African Apartheid system. Mr. Styles is in the memorial business. A photographer living near Port Elizabeth in apartheid-era South Africa, he sees it as his job to take photographs of all those black women and men whose lives would otherwise go unrecorded and be lost to history. Being a black photographer, Styles had joy and so much believed taking photographs of black majority is the only way by which he could bring joy into the faces of most black South Africans who had loosed hope in the future of a good governance. He buttressed much more on this by engaging his numerous clients in a friendly banter and thus partly getting rid of the thought of loneliness nurtured for so long time. The author further narrows down the character of Style as one of the comic relief of this book. He could be seen as one who enjoys what he is doing due to the excitement it gives folks who can’t wait to see their face and pose in his photography studio.
Beneath his sunny exterior and nifty sales techniques, he’s bit more of a philosopher, knowing that “this world and its laws allow us nothing except ourselves. There is nothing we can leave behind when we die, except a memory of ourselves.” But sometimes you must die so you can live – and that’s the case with one of his customers, whose story is told in a devised play created by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona in 1972. The paradox of Sizwe Banzi’s life whose storyline leads to the development of this title that is, it is only by faking his death and taking someone else’s identity has he any chance of survival in a country that limits freedom of movement and work opportunities for its black citizens. This was quite a betrayal for his self esteem but he never mind that by any means as he also informed his innocent wife that he now has a new name. No more the Sizwe Bansi (which use to be his real name, is now dead but now bearing a false name. Robert Zwelinzima). This deed of Sizwe therefore support the numerous effect of Apartheid ruling that has never been in favour of the black majority.
The book on its own preached and is still preaching the various ordeals of obnoxious policy of apartheid and the intense suffering of the people. It had all the various apartheid act infused into it and beautifully painted out in pictures that can well be understood by the forthcoming younger generation. If any book might need to be kept in the historical archive of SouthAfrica, then no doubt, Sizwe Banzi is Dead will definitely fit in and makes a best relic of Apartheid tribulation. We can see terrific and terrifically execution of part from Sizwe Banzi, and Styles and the ingenious Buntu, who sees a way to give Banzi the human dignity that every man and woman deserves.
This is a book I can recommend for any generation of folks desirous to know about apartheid. If you were never alive then to witness South African Apartheid, at least you found this book.