grond/Santekraam en bientang: Gesitueer in globale swart seeroetes




Ronelda S. Kamfer, Jolyn Phillips, slavery in literature, Paul Gilroy, Black Atlantic, black aquattic, Afrikaans poetry, black Afrikaans writing


The Afrikaans poetry collections grond/Santekraam (2011) by Ronelda S. Kamfer and bientang (2020) by Jolyn Phillips both centralise the ocean and both deal with attempts at recovering repressed black histories. Apart from figuring as a source of spiritual fulfilment and connected to figures in the collection’s livelihoods, the ocean is represented in these collections as the bringer of European colonisers and of slaves to South Africa. In this article I contend that references to slavery and colonialism and the use of words in languages brought to South Africa through slave networks position these collections as products of the transnational Black Atlantic tradition, as theorised by Paul Gilroy. The fact that the narratives of both collections take place in the Overstrand region, near the meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, gives an indication of how Gilroy’s theory needs to be adapted to be applicable to Afrikaans literature: as many English-language South African theorists have argued, oceanic literary studies in South Africa should pay as much attention to routes in the Indian Ocean as to Atlantic routes. The emphasis in both collections on not only a history of slavery, but also one of the displacement of and violence against the people already inhabiting the area when colonisers alighted, further serves to indicate what an Afrikaans black aquatic literature looks like. When taking into account these differences between Afrikaans and other versions of black aquatic art, reading grond/Santekraam and bientang as part of a global black aesthetics allows the researcher to identify the ways in which these collections are characterised by a hermeneutics of suspicion (an interpretation of contemporary life that recognises the ways in which it is structured and functions in anti-black ways) and a hermeneutics of memory (an interpretation of this anti-black contemporary as a continuation of the history of the dehumanisation of black people). 


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Author Biography

Bibi Burger, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Bibi Burger is a lecturer in the Afrikaans Department at the University of Pretoria.


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How to Cite

Burger, B. (2022). grond/Santekraam en bientang: Gesitueer in globale swart seeroetes. Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 59(1), 62–74.



Research articles