Separating the Magical from the Real

The Representation of the Barwa in Zakes Mda’s She Plays with the Darkness

In: Matatu


Zakes Mda’s novel She Plays with the Darkness has been characterised as a magical realist novel. It is notable, though, that the magical elements are reserved almost exclusively for the sections of the novel that relate to the major character, Dikosha, and her world of music, art and dance. Central to this world are the Barwa, better known as the Bushmen or San. This article is chiefly concerned with the novel’s representation of Dikosha’s relationship with the Barwa. It also examines the depiction of the Barwa way of life and the symbolic resonance they possess for the present.

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