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Tsotsi Transformed: Retooling Athol Fugard for the Thabo Mbeki Era
Research in African Literatures (2011)
  • Daniel Lehman, Ashland University
Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi, the 2006 Oscar-winning South African film adapted from Athol Fugard’s novel, proves more politically astute than its academic critics first thought, notably by implicating Thabo Mbeki, the president who succeeded Nelson Mandela and ruled South Africa from 1999 to 2008. Hood’s updating of Fugard’s narrative to postapartheid South Africa, as well as the film’s layered AIDS discourse, results in a significant cultural indictment of Mbeki’s economic and HIV policies. Despite various shortcomings, Tsotsi anticipated the seismic shift in South African politics that prompted Mbeki’s ouster from the presidency late in his second term. The film’s ending confronts two exemplars of postapartheid South Africa—the township shack dweller whose economic fate stagnated under Mbeki and the newly empowered South African whose wealth seems the very emblem of Mbeki economics. That symbolic encounter builds Tsotsi’s political and artistic relevance beyond what its director or initial academic critics may have envisioned
  • Tsotsi,
  • Fugard
Publication Date
January 21, 2011
Citation Information
Daniel Lehman. "Tsotsi Transformed: Retooling Athol Fugard for the Thabo Mbeki Era" Research in African Literatures Vol. 42 Iss. 1 (2011)
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