Tuesday, June 12, 2012

THE POWER OF WORDS : an interview

THE POWER OF WORDS  

       FAROUK ASVAT  
          interviewed by  
       JOSEFA SALMÓN  


JOSEFA:  At the moment South Africa is very much the focus of international news, and therefore, it is a country shaped by the mass media and the struggle against apartheid.  As an insider and as a poet, how does your view of South Africa differ from this image? 

FAROUK:  Do you mean in terms of the contrast between the image that is created? …  In terms of the mass media coverage of South Africa, it's actually very limited, and also quite often very simplified, or very selective about certain personalities or certain events.  For the time I've been out of the country (for two years), I haven't come across, in the mainstream media, reporting on South Africa trying to capture or explain the complexity of what's happening there.  The problem with that is that a lot of people have taken on that as the image of South Africa - a kind of simple struggle between the good black guys, who are very oppressed and almost helpless, versus the very bad white guys.  And so quite often, what one finds is that people hear this, then do not want to be introduced to the complexity of the struggle in South Africa - which obviously means that it's fought at different levels, in different ways, and there are different responses to it.  And that creates a problem because Western audiences, speaking generally, are more at home with having either white interpreters like Alan Paton, Nadine Gordimer, JM Coetzee, or Andre Brink, telling them what South Africa is about, rather than wanting to confront the real complexity of the issue that is sometimes presented by some of the black writers in South Africa - also in a rather limited way actually.  One would expect that people outside would want to listen to people who are really on the oppressed side and who are in intimate contact with both the complexities of the situations, and the various ways of responding to them, in order to really get a true picture of what is happening in South Africa. 

JOSEFA:  How much does the historical immediacy of the liberation of blacks in South Africa weigh on the literature being produced there, and to what extent does it play an important role in creating a unified South African voice of protest? 

FAROUK:  The immediacies in South Africa are all-consuming, that writers are constantly confronting what happens today or what has happened yesterday or what is about to happen tomorrow.  They obviously do it in the context of history and with future ideals in mind.  But a lot of the writing that actually comes out deals with the very, very immediate experiences... actual day-to-day experiences and confrontations.  In many ways that gives the writing its own vibrancy and originality in many different ways.  But at the same time that quite often this also limits it - because one is then prevented from having the luxury of sitting back and thinking about very major events in a "detached" or "objective" (and I'm putting that in quotation marks) perspective, which in many ways would give those very experiences a kind of broader perspective.  But, on the other hand, what happens because you're living so much on the edge all the time, is that in many ways you actually do incorporate all those other things into your moment, almost every moment, so that when you write that poetry, even though you're dealing very emotionally with something that is very immediate, you've also got all your other inputs in there.  I found that there are times you end up writing something very meaningful, quite often only realising afterwards some of the different factors that you've brought into your poem.  So that instead of spending five years in writing some piece, you might write it in one night, because quite often you might not have the time to go back to it or you're not going to get another opportunity to write that poem or that play or that short story. 

JOSEFA:  So the political situation very much determines what kind of poetry is being written? 

FAROUK:  Yes, extremely so, because poets are just not individuals, or they are just not writing their own feelings about something - poetry and the arts having become very integrated into the political struggle; - and especially poetry, because at most political meetings and almost all funerals and mass rallies poetry has become an integral part of the proceedings.  At one level, even though people might write complex poems about the situation, these will be read at a political meeting.  But at another level, the very need to always be reading poetry means that a lot of stuff comes closer to the oral tradition of performance poetry, rather than written poetry. 

JOSEFA:  How did the political situation in South Africa affect you personally, as a physician and as a poet? 

FAROUK:  Well, first of all I don't think that I started off thinking of myself as a poet or somebody who is going to write or publish things.  My writing in many ways emanated from a need to articulate what is happening to black people in South Africa, and because, even at an early stage a lot of the things I read gave me the sense that they were only partially explaining things, or quite often misrepresenting what I felt were my own experiences, or the kinds of experiences that were shared amongst people.  From that came a need to sort of try and, well, just write poems - on the one hand to explain, but on the other hand to confront the very system you were dealing with.  So, a lot of my poetry really went hand with the development of the Black Consciousness Movement with Steve Biko.  The cultural exploration became a very integral part of political activity: that is, to try and rediscover our history, our past, to find a voice to articulate our own experiences.  At one level there's a kind of opposition, but also for some of us it's a way of trying to explain our own lives, both to ourselves and to other people.  I'm not quite sure if I would have started writing …, but because of the political situation I did start writing, and in many ways that very thing then became a reason to write, not so much from an individual need as from a need that arose in the community itself, which had been made voiceless in so many different ways through censorship, through misrepresentation in books, and the media, to the extent that, for a lot of people, it was almost hopeless to oppose the system - so that my writing developed very much hand-in-hand with the political movement at that stage. 

JOSEFA:  Did you become a target for political persecution? 

FAROUK:  Yes, from the very beginning.  Within a few months of having written my first poems, I already had a death threat.  Soon after, I was banned for five years.  Officially they don't give you reasons for why you are banned, but several people were told along the way that the reason for banning us was that we were reading poetry.  We went around to various schools, community halls, putting together an evening show with music and poetry, reading and talking about the political situation.  And we did this quite extensively, especially in the Johannesburg area.  And within six months of doing that, four of the poets that were intimately involved with the group I initiated were banned.  

JOSEFA:  Which group was this? 

FAROUK:  It was called Black Thoughts.  Also the musicians were harassed.  To silence the voice of writers and poets was definitely the aim of the system, because in oppressed societies where the media misrepresents you, where the schooling system misrepresents you, honest writers become the voice of the people in a sense that they articulate what, quite often, the people's aspirations are, what they are feeling - and that is what oppressive regimes obviously do not want.  Also, it's not always just political harassment, but also as part of my medical training at the university (which is supposed to be a liberal institution), I had a lot of problems in terms of my course work.  And when I qualified, for two and a half years I couldn't get a job at a provincial hospital where I needed to do my internship.  Subsequently, I had lots of difficulties getting jobs at other provincial hospitals - and I could go into lots of evidence for that.  So, it's a kind of harassment at many levels that writers have to face in an oppressed society.  

JOSEFA:  You say that the writers represent the voice of the people.  How does your writing accomplish this? 

FAROUK:  What I've been trying to do is to get to how people really feel, dealing with their day to day relationships in the midst of a very violent and oppressive system.  A lot of writing, unfortunately, that comes from people on the supposed left, quite often deals only at the very rhetorical level with the political ideologies of what struggle means, which is valid at one level - but it is also the writer's duty to try and tell them how people really feel and respond with all their contradictions, with their hopes and despairs of political struggle in the midst of ordinary social events, of everyday individual responses of laughter and hope and cynicism or whatever else.  I don't think people really respond only at the rhetorical level to the oppression.  And for a lot of people outside of those events it's also easier to identify with that kind of rhetorical representation, because you have these clear-cut good guys/bad guys images; whereas if they have to deal with complex feelings and emotions and subtleties and wants, of how people really feel … - some people are afraid to confront that because it gives humanity to the people who have always been looked upon as objects.  When dealing with the situation at the rhetorical level, you are also reducing your own experiences to an object - that suits many people's image of what oppressed people are.  

JOSEFA:  Could you just clarify what "rhetorical representation" means to you? 

FAROUK:  Well, just dealing with the issue in clear-cut ideological terms: that this is a capitalist system, that we are revolutionaries, that we are going to create a socialist system, with those kinds of highly simplified images.  Quite often it's necessary for political work at one level; but in terms of trying to really write about the people one has to go much, much deeper than just ideological, rhetorical representations of the struggle.  I mean a lot of that kind of writing is good at one level, because one can identify with it in a certain way, but I don't think it tells you much more than a political pamphlet would tell you or a newspaper article from a magazine on the left would tell you. 

JOSEFA:  Is this writing very common in South Africa? 

FAROUK:  Yes, a lot of South African writing is that, because the situation demands it.  And also, it takes a lot of hard work to get from just writing simplistically at the rhetorical level to writing more complexly.  I don't think we should deny those voices, because in any case our voices are silenced at so many different levels; so whatever voices we have are valid at one level.  But it is also necessary for people who are interested in literature and the political situation as such, if we can give or help give better insights to better articulate our own complexities - it helps us, it helps other people working in the struggle to better understand things; and hopefully certain of those things would then lead on to further changes or developments or critiques of the struggle.  The rhetorical writing helps in the sense of reinforcing what your basic notions already are about the struggle.  So, I suppose that is necessary at some level, too. 

JOSEFA:  Since most of your work is written in English, how do you feel about dealing with the English language, which has often been identified as the language of the oppressor? 

FAROUK:  I think that historical and peculiar circumstances for each country determine and dictate those things.  I don't think there is an overall solution for it.  But for instance, to take the Latin American experience, where writers have taken the language of the coloniser and have converted it in many instances to the language of the revolution - language itself can be either liberating or oppressive.  What English writers, people who write in English have to do if they have chosen to write in English, is to create another English which is the English of liberation, rather than the kind of English that was used to impose so many things on people that are colonised.  It's a difficult process because one grows up in a system which is totally geared towards the dominant culture or the dominating culture, that one first has to learn the language itself, which in some instances might be foreign to the people or it might be a second or third language.  Once that is done, one then has to go many steps further in trying to understand what the language is really trying to do.  Also, in that same process, try to undermine the very language that you're trying to master. 

JOSEFA:  Do black writers in South Africa put more emphasis on changing the language into one that would reflect their reality or way of speaking? 

FAROUK:  It was a debate for quite a long time and there was a phase when a lot of people felt that English was the language of the coloniser, as Afrikaans is.  Therefore we should go back to our own roots and there was even an attempt made, which was very peripheral, of Swahili being taught to everyone.  And then there were people who said that writing had to be in Zulu, Tswana, or one of the indigenous languages.  But having discussed that, people realised that on the one hand to put emphasis on the different languages would have the danger of creating clan and tribal and nationalist identities within the nation which would then be a danger to the unifying of the struggle.  And also in South Africa a lot of the people, a majority of black people, do speak English at some level or other, so that we saw English as the kind of the national language, as the unifying language, the lingua franca, as a language to be used for political discussions.  But it doesn't deny the fact that regional languages for politicisation in regional areas should also be used, because if you can get through to people in a certain language and if it is easier to do that, then it's fine; but the emphasis is not to create those kinds of separate identities which is the very thing we have been fighting against.  But creating the English language for liberation is not simply to use rhetorical terms which are militant and which are against the system - it goes much deeper than that.  That kind of language would need to try to incorporate a lot of specifics and needs of the cultures that they come from, which are specific for those particular areas.  So it's not just a matter of using catch-phrases.  It's a matter that goes much deeper, and for South African writers, in the long term, that is the real challenge, and it is also the challenge for a lot of other people in the supposed Third World: that is, to take English or French or Spanish and turn it around in the way that liberation theology has turned around Christianity from being used as one of the arms of the colonising process - to reinterpret it, and to serve a purpose in terms of understanding religion from a different perspective which is meaningful to the people who have been oppressed or who are fighting against oppression. 

JOSEFA:  In terms of your own writings, how do you deal with the choice of languages that you face? 

FAROUK:  Well, because of what I've said now, I've written predominantly in English, but I've also written in various slangs that exist in South Africa - which are combinations of different languages.  There might be one language base, but quite often there are combinations of several languages that are predominant in that region with a whole lot of words that are totally invented words.  It's not anything that has been worked out, it has come very much from people's experiences, so that certain things somebody might say might just catch on or a certain sound that somebody might hear might be changed into a word which then becomes a new word and which doesn't belong in any of the languages.  So I've written poems in that way as well.  And in terms of some of my short stories, I've written them in English but I've tried to incorporate phrases or sometimes the thought processes of the different languages or regions.  And that is what has to be done with English or Spanish or French or Portuguese because I don't think we can just write in English in the sense that it comes from Britain. 

JOSEFA:  What other languages do you speak? 

FAROUK:  Well, my home language initially was Gujerati - my grandparents came from India.  I also learned Urdu and learned to read Arabic as part of the cultural or religious background of my parents.  But the language in the immediate environment was Tswana, one of the indigenous languages.  And then, a fair amount of people spoke Afrikaans.  And English actually came, in a sense later, and in another way at the same time, because one obviously hears the radio or reads the newspapers.  But in terms of schooling, English only came once one really went formally to school.  So English in some ways wasn't my first language.  And subsequently because of my work as a doctor I've also learned to some extent Zulu and Xhosa.  Also, outsiders may understand a few words in the  slang languages and they might still not understand most of the slang, of what is beiong said.   And part of it is a subversive culture, because it allows you to speak in the presence of your boss or in your work situation - so you can have a roaring conversation even about him (your boss), in his presence, without him understanding what you are talking about.  So, poetry that I've written in that mode is very immediately identifiable with audiences where that particular language or slang is spoken, in a way that English poetry in some ways cannot always be, because in some ways we still haven't gotten the skill of how to really get the English across. 

JOSEFA:  You told me previously that you had read much Latin American literature.  How did this affect your work? 

FAROUK:  Several Latin American writers have had a tremendous influence on me because in many ways it was the first time I had a kind of sense that there were writers who were writing exactly what I would want to say or almost exactly or very near to what I would want to say about my own situation.  Whereas no matter who I read from the established literature or the Western canon, or even a lot of the other literature I had read previously from the non European World, they were somehow bound up in Western traditional literatures, so even though at one level it might have been sort of anti-colonialist or anti-imperialist, at another level it had not freed itself from the thought processes of the dominant culture.  When I read especially Pablo Neruda and Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes, I began to have a sense that here were writers - that in spite of the fact that I was reading it in English and it was originally written in Spanish which are both colonising languages - that they had in many ways gotten beneath the trappings of the language itself and had liberated it and were actually doing something else with it which was something that I could identify with, at various levels, not only in terms of ideology or rhetoric but also at a much inner, deeper level.  Again, even though there are so many similarities about having been colonised, or living in a new colonial situation, or the tremendous amount of violence in those societies, there are still aspects that the Latin American writing doesn't quite explain, in terms of my situation.  In our situation the issue of race is a very dominant factor, and there are also obviously just other specific factors about the South African situation.  So, it comes nearest so far, in many ways, to what my experiences are, but still it doesn't quite explain my own situation.  In terms of dealing with the dominant culture, a lot of African writers, even though at some level they dealt with colonialism and racism, they had not been able to free themselves of the trappings entirely of the dominating culture.  What Ngugi wa Thiong'o, for instance, has said is very important about decolonising the mind.  So that even though a lot of countries have got their supposed independence or are supposedly free now, they are actually living very much totally caught up in the dominating culture which is usually European for most of the countries; and now very much the pervasiveness of US pop invading our cultures. 

JOSEFA:  As far as your own poetry, you have two poems in A Celebration of Flames, one dedicated to Steve Biko and another to Mandela.  What is your relationship with these people? 

FAROUK:  Well, Mandela is from a generation before me in many ways - I mean, he has been in prison since I was a child.  So he always was something of an image that one looked up to in the early days.  Regarding Steve Biko, I became involved in politics at about the time when Steve and others started the Black Consciousness Movement.  So my own influences are very strong from that period.  And in many ways, Steve and the Black Consciousness Movement articulated many things in a very original way and also in a way that is very pertinent to the South African situation: there was an amazing amount of clarity in explaining what the South African situation was about - because a lot of the politics previous to that were also caught up in foreign ideologies that were transported into South Africa.  So you were either dealing with a kind of passive resistance or you were dealing with ideological discussions that hadn't looked at the specifics of the South African situation.  You were either just talking in terms of Marxist or Leninist or Trotskyist theory, or you were using the South African experience of Gandhi from a previous time and sort of wanting to still use it in South Africa.  But what the Black Consciousness Movement did is, it took all these influences and tried to make them into a more specific coherent articulation of a specific situation at a specific historical moment.  And for me that has been a very important thing because it was really the very first time that it was done, not only at a theoretical level, it happened simultaneously with political work, in terms of setting up clinics or independent industries, independent agricultural projects, cultural events - so that political organisation happened at the same time.  There was a tremendous integration of political work at the various levels with the development of an indigenous political theory which was also influenced by everything from Marxism/Leninism to Aimé Césaire, from the protests against the war in Viet Nam to W E B Du Bois and Frantz Fanon, from Paulo Freire and Amilcar Cabral to Malcolm X and the formation of the Black Panther movement, and the liberation struggles against the colonial rulers - but using all of that to bring it down to a specific and simple interpretation of what the South African situation is about.  

JOSEFA:  Did you personally know Steve Biko? 

FAROUK:  Personally, I just met him a few times, very briefly, more in passing.  I mean, I didn't know him well.  He was in a different region.  Also, I got banned very soon after I started political work - in fact, within six months I was banned.  By that time he had already been banned and banished and restricted to King Williamstown.  So, because of that, I didn't actually get to know him.  In 1977, I was going to - and I did go to work (in violation of my banning order) in the clinic that Steve had started in King Williamstown; but by the time I started he had already been detained and tortured and killed.  So I only got there on the day of his funeral.  But Steve left a kind of presence in the South African situation that is unique. 

… Not that any one person is ever responsible for a struggle or for political articulation - it's just that individuals who have the ability do various things at various levels … - that is probably a very bourgeois or Western notion about writers and individuals who have all these tremendous skills, who can then articulate it, and are somebody special.  A writer is just one other person in the community who has developed a skill in a certain direction, and that what he is doing is merely articulating and being a conduit for what a lot of the other people feel. 

JOSEFA:  Is this your notion about your role as a writer? 

FAROUK:  Yes; and there should be a kind of re-evaluation of writers and of artists - not as some people with special skills and special talents or some God-given powers or something like that, which makes them somebody who is above, or better than, or different from the people.  What should be told more and more is that a writer or a musician is just another person who has learned a lot of things, and if he is coming from a kind of communal political set up, then what he is merely doing is articulating what a lot of people feel, which is also an empowering kind of attitude because it gives people the ability to say, "Look, I can also be a writer," and hopefully quite a few people will then also go on to develop this skill.  It is just a difference between people who spend more time developing certain skills.  It's like anything else...  It's like being a doctor.  You're not anything special, you're just somebody who has had the opportunity or had the persistence to go on and study certain things, and you spent a lot of years doing that.  So, quite often people will come to you and say, "I have tuberculosis," and the patient will be correct.  I mean, quite often people know what they are suffering from.  What they need is just the doctor to, in many ways, confirm what they are suffering from in a more objective and specialised way, and also to deal with it in a way that the patient himself cannot deal with.  And that's the same thing with writers.  What they are doing is just articulating what people in the community feel, and that others have just probably not had the opportunity or the chance or the desire to be a writer. 

JOSEFA:  Why is poetry so important as an organising political tool? 

FAROUK:  It's several things.  The immediacy is so consuming in the South African situation that you are dealing with a dynamic situation that is changing all the time, almost every day.  The only way you can respond to it is immediately and quickly and in that way poetry is a very useful means of doing it, because things change and you suddenly need something else to be said.  Almost all writers in South Africa, black writers in South Africa, are not only writers but they also have a full-time job, most of them have families, and most of them are involved politically at some level - either local, regional, or national.  So that they have obviously a tremendous amount of things to do and so poetry becomes a quick method of dealing with your immediate situation.  That's the reason that there is so much poetry.  Initially, a lot of people can write down lines and call it poetry and therefore it begins to sort of give the sense that they can do something or say something about what's happening in their lives.  Whereas obviously, to sit down and write a novel you need ... - just the process of writing might take you a few years - ... you need a kind of comfort and luxury of a study to do that.  And there's obviously a lot of poverty, a lot of overcrowding - so that in many ways just the social circumstances are not conducive for you to have your big library and spend four hours in a study where nobody is going to disturb you.  Most houses in South Africa have ten, fifteen, twenty people staying in the home - so that the lounge itself is a sleeping place and the bedroom might have quite a few people.  So that the only time you have to write is late at night when everybody else is asleep and you're the only guy who is sitting up around and doing some writing.  So it's a combination of all those factors.  Also because South Africa is so much a changing, dynamic situation all the time that you have to respond so strongly to so many things - emotionally, intellectually - all the time.  It is difficult to have a kind of detached perspective about some characters that you're creating when somebody's getting killed in the community that you're living in, or people are getting beaten up, or children are detained - it is difficult for you to say, "Well, I'm not going to be interested about that - what's important is writing."  Writing is very important because it gives people a voice, it gives people a sense of belonging, it gives people a sense of common experience, and quite often those things are necessary for people who are going through very difficult periods because you need something to hold on to at moments of despair, moments of defeat.  I mean, struggles are not just one continuous victory; there are many, many moments of despair, and those are times when people can fall back on reading poetry or short stories or essays which give them a sense of vision, of identification, of feeling of hope.  But it's difficult to write long pieces or scholarly pieces in that kind of situation.  It requires somebody who would be very aware of the situation and who can also distance himself - which is very difficult.  Especially as a writer, you probably in many ways make sure that you are more aware of what is happening around you, and by that very fact you then feel obliged to partake in what is happening around you. 

JOSEFA:  In a poetry reading at the University of California, Berkeley, I heard you say that you don't have many love poems.  Yet I find many love poems in A Celebration of Flames.  Of course, it is a love imagery entwined with pain, blood and violence at times, for example, the poem "Bouquets of Pain."  Would you say that this outlook on love is present in most of your poetry? 

FAROUK:  No, what I said was that many white academics and critics have said that blacks are not capable of writing about love - that they only write about blood and thunder stuff, or political stuff - that they cannot write love poetry.  My main idea, especially with the collection A Celebration of Flames, was to try and capture what it is, with all your sensitivities intact, to live in an oppressive regime.  And as a collection it probably makes obvious that it becomes a very, very painful experience.  But also, at the other level, that in South Africa everything is just so intertwined that your personal life is not your personal life, in any way at all - whether you're an activist or not.  For people who are maybe just going to work, and who don't want to get involved in politics and who would just like to lead a kind of normal life under the circumstances and not want to make whatever deprivations there are even worse - people like that still have their lives disrupted all the time, because it's such an indiscriminate kind of situation where almost everything you do or don't do gets dictated to by the political situation.  The laws are just so pervasive about so many things: like where you can live, about which hospital you can go to, about which bus you can ride, until recently about whom you could marry ... which cemetery you're buried in - everything is determined by law - which ambulance you can be put in.  So that obviously with that kind of almost omniscience of the law - that even who you fall in love with is not only predetermined by God, if you believe in God, but it is also predetermined by the state because of the Group Areas Act.  I mean, who are the people that you are most likely to interact with?  They are people that are living near to you.  Who are your friends going to become?  All those things are determined by the laws of the country.  So that it creeps into every aspect of your life and therefore it also creeps into your personal life, obviously, and therefore it also creeps into your relationship and it colours your relationships.  For instance, a woman who would just like to get married and want to raise a family and have a house …  I mean it doesn't happen because of the migrant labour laws.  The men are in the cities; the women are in the rural areas.  The man sees the wife once a year for two or three weeks.  So, family life is disrupted.  Also, the police can come in the middle of the night just looking for documents or if you're illegally in that area.  So you don't have to be overly politically active for your life to be disrupted all the time.  Ordinary lives are disrupted all the time by things that are political.  From my own experience I see how even personal relationships, friendships or other relationships that you have can be very severely disrupted by things that are not only of your own making.  I mean, for most people here for instance, a relationship would be compatible or incompatible basically because of whether the two people themselves can work things out.  But, in our situation it doesn't only mean that, it can mean ideological differences, it can mean organisational differences, it can mean interference from the state at different levels, or it can mean that your harassment causes problems within the relationship - so all those things obviously affect your life at a very personal level.  And also if you are acutely aware of what's happening in the country, all that begins to have a presence in your life which is quite strong; your personal life, your personal pleasures quite often get intermingled with the blood and violence and the shooting and the tear gas that's just around the corner. 

JOSEFA:  As a way of concluding our interview, tell us what your plans as a writer are.  Your reputation has been basically established as a poet; but I hear that you plan to write a novel and more short stories.  Is this change a result of your absence from South Africa? 

FAROUK:  No.  I've always had - well, for quite a while I've had, especially the one novel in mind - which I have already started writing …  In fact, I started writing it twice, and twice very major upheavals occurred in South Africa, and I had to put it aside.  So, in many ways the novel is structured in my mind, but it requires a period when I can sit down and write the novel.  Short stories are sort of in-between things, so there are obviously phases of relative calm in South Africa, and those are probably times when you can or could write short stories; but also because the voice of what is happening in South Africa has been so muted or so denied or so obliterated, that for some of us who have developed the skills to write, it almost becomes a kind of obligation to try and capture what is happening in South Africa.  Most of us are just not writers, we also have jobs and we are also involved in political organizations at some level, in some way or another - we’re just not poets, we're just not any one specific thing.  Journalists in South Africa are very often also very active political people.  If poetry is the thing you write best, you also, at moments, feel that you have to write an essay or write a newspaper article or write a short story or a novel even, because that is going to explain what you are trying to say much better.  So, the circumstances force you to do all these different things in all these different ways.  It obviously becomes a very demanding occupation in South Africa. 

JOSEFA:  What will you do when you go back? 

FAROUK:  Well, I'll be going back to the clinic that I was working at in Alexandra Township, which is on the edge of Johannesburg, a highly deprived urban slum.  So, again, even your medical work obviously relates very much to your social surroundings and therefore also to the political situation.  Just everything is so interrelated for us.  And between everything else I'll be writing … 


© farouk asvat & © josefa salmón.  All rights reserved.

[] Acknowledgements:

The interview took place at the University of Berkeley, California, in May, 1989;

It was translated into Portuguese by Josefa Salmón,
&
published as:

     A força da palavra (the power of words) in:
          Cadernos Do Terceiro Mundo, (Third World),
               (Manaus, Brazil, # 135, p35-40, August 1990).

     Weapons of Words (kindle, 2016);
     Weapons of Words (amazon paperback, p77, 2016).

     • published with the kind permission of Josefa Salmón.

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the NOVEL Sadness In The House Of Love by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $15 & kindle @ only $5
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the NOVEL The Gathering Of The Storm by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
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the anthology I Dream In Long Sentences by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
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the anthology The Wind Still Sings Sad Songs by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
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the anthology A Celebration Of Flames by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
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the anthology The Time Of Our Lives by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
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the anthology Bra Frooks … by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $7.50 & kindle @ only $5
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the collection of literary essays Weapons of Words by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $10 & kindle @ only $5
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© farouk asvat.  All rights reserved.

Farouk Asvat asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means whatsoever, or transmitted in any form or any means whatsoever, mechanical or electronic, including recording, printing, photocopying, or via any computerised means or media, including the internet.  This publication shall also not be stored in a retrieval system.  And the writing shall not be sold, lent, hired, resold or circulated in any form or binding or cover other than that in which it is published,
without the prior permission of the author in writing.
Permission to publish or reproduce the writings in any format can be obtained from the author.
Reproduction of this work without permission, except for scholarly & nonprofit purposes,
is liable to a payment of 10, 000 ren men bi or US$ 1,500.

farouk asvat can be contacted at: farouk.asvat@gmail.com

[] please check out my blogs @:





books by farouk asvat: www.faroukasvat-books.blogspot.com

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amazon kindle author @ www.amazon.com/author/faroukasvat

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the NOVEL Sadness In The House Of Love by Farouk Asvat
is now available on amazon: paperback @ $15 & kindle @ only $5
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#interview #josefa salmon #latin america #magical realism
#faroukasvat #weapons of words #comparative literature #literary criticism


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