Negotiating a new cultural space : aspects of fantasy in contempory South African youth literature, with specific reference to because Pula means rain by Jenny Robson

19 Sep 2012

This article will examine how contemporary South African authors are using fantasy in literature for adolescents as a site for postcolonial endeavour, with reference to Because pula means rain (2000) by Jenny Robson. Discussing how texts for adolescents can be used as “bibliotherapy”, and how authors writing for adolescents must be aware of the dangers of the “top-down” power hierarchy inherent in any text written for a younger audience, this article examines how these texts have become interesting sites for postcolonial critique. In Because pula means rain, the narrative is woven around young Emmanuel’s quest to belong in his local community. Emmanuel, a young boy with albinism, is ostracised from his black community because of the ‘whiteness’ of his skin. Emmanuel is thus an interesting site of double othering – he is neither black nor white, but is stuck in an ‘in-between’ liminal place of double negation. It is from this place of ostracism that he begins his journey, and through it Robson opens up a space for counter-hegemonic discourse. This article will examine how Because pula means rain successfully makes use of liminal fantasy as a subversive technique, to interrogate a new space for Emmanuel to investigate his own identity.