Nadine Gordimer is one of South Africa’s most celebrated authors. In her writing she dealt with issues like race and morality which led to the banning of her books Burger’s Daughter and July’s People. Burger’s Daughter was banned in 1979 and the restrictions were lifted just three months later. Two years later July’s People was also banned. In 1991, Gordimer won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Lewis Nkosi was a writer and an essayist whose works were banned by the government because they challenged and criticised the apartheid system. He received a Neiman scholarship from HarvardUniversity and was given a one-way permit to leave the country. He lived in exile until 2001 and held many posts overseas at many universities and an editorial position at The New African in London.
Breyten Breytenbach is considered one of the greatest Afrikaans literary figures. In 1975, his volume Skryt was banned just three years after it came to prominence. His case is interesting because although some of his work was banned by the South African government, the author himself was banned from re-entering the country because he married a Vietnamese woman while in France.
Kennis van die Aand by the late André Brink was the first Afrikaans book to be banned in South Africa. He was part of a crucial group of writers known as Die Sestigers who used the Afrikaans language to speak out against the apartheid government. In his earlier works he dealt largely with apartheid and later changed his focus to post-apartheid society.
Alex La Guma was a member of the ANC and a respected writer. He is considered one of South Africa’s top 20th century writers. His work got him placed under 24-hour house arrest in 1962. Eventually he was forced into exile and died in 1985. At the time he was the ANC’s chief representative in the Caribbean. He wrote the books A Walk in the Night (1962) and And a Threefold Cord (1967), which has been called his “neglected masterpiece” by scholars.
These are just a few of the many writers whose works were banned by the oppressive laws of censorship. Fortunately, in today’s society there is no reason to ban a writer’s work because of our constitution and this protection could urge more writers to make their views known and be as influential as those that preceded them.