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Loss of identity and racial melancholy in Nadine Gordimer’s burger’s daughter and Zakes Mda’s the madonna of excelsior

Arts & Humanities Open Access Journal
Nelson Mlambo, Ricardo Kavari, Bronwen Amanda Beukes


Loss of identity and racial melancholy are stark realities in postcolonial Namibia and Southern African in general, and these have found expression in artistic works. The fictionalisation of feelings of not belonging, or a sense of unhomeliness is illuminated in this paper. This paper is a literary exploration of racial melancholy and loss of identity in Zakes Mda’s The Madonna of Excelsior1 and Nadine Gordimer’s Burger’s Daughter,2 both set in apartheid Namibia. The main aim of the paper is to examine, discuss and explore how the two concepts are presented in the two novels under investigation. The critical race theory was applied in this paper and it is relevant as it states that racism is engrained in the fabric of postcolonial societies.3 Erikson’s theory of human development asserts that for a human being to develop fully he or she goes through different hindrances in the course of life. The findings suggest that there are several issues that lead to loss of identity and racial melancholy. The two concepts are exacerbated by racism, apartheid, and cultural and linguistic identity. Loss of identity and racial melancholy thrive in a racially segregated environment and where there is abuse of power. These are realities in the lives of the characters presented by Mda and Gordimer.1,2 


erikson’s theory, literary representations, exploration, postcolonial societies, cultural and linguistic identity