This paper explores the Asian presence in South Africa through the work of Ronnie Govender. One of its concerns is how fictional worlds based on real-life experiences become a means to counter the discourses of apartheid that insisted upon the incommensurability of cultural difference as regards Asian and African communities. In this light, the paper references how a white hegemony sets about compromising an already fragile co-existence that existed between the Black, Coloured, and Asian communities and considers the body of Govender’s work as a repository which aids future generations to connect with the traumatic nature of apartheid so as to reconnect with the era’s lost possibilities. Throughout the analysis of Govender’s texts, the Group Areas Act emerges as a silent actor that casts its shadow upon his writing. This paper notes how these Acts were detrimental to conviviality and shows how Govender creates textual cartographies that counter the surveilling and controlling of ethnic groups under apartheid. Regarding the Indian presence within South Africa, the paper presents how Govender adapts an Afro-centric position as regards the configuring of this identity.


Apartheid, cartographies, chotara, conviviality, hybridity, miscegenation, South African Indian

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)