CoconutAn Important Rumination On Youth In Modern Day South Africa, This Haunting Debut Novel Tells The Story Of Two Extraordinary Young Women Who Have Grown Up Black In White Suburbs And Must Now Struggle To Find Their Identities The Rich And Pampered Ofilwe Has Taken Her Privileged Lifestyle For Granted, And Must Confront Her Swiftly Dwindling Sense Of Culture When Her Soulless World Falls Apart Meanwhile, The Hip And Sassy Fiks Is An Ambitious Go Getter Desperate To Leave Her Vicious Past Behind For The Glossy Sophistication Of City Life, But Finds Johannesburg To Be Complicated And Unforgiving Than She Expected These Two Stories Artfully Come Together To Illustrate The Weight Of History Upon A New Generation In South Africa In every classroom children are dying It is a parasitic disease, seizing the mind for its own usage Using the mind for its own survival So that it might grow, divide, multiply and infect others Burnt Sienna washing out DNA coding for white greed, blond vanity and blue eyed malevolence IsiZulu forgotten Tshivenda a distant memory A coconut in South Africa is what s called an oreo in the United States black on the outside and white on the inside This story is about two different types of coconuts Ofilwe and Fikile two young South African girls who are seething with the rage of having no love for their blackness Kopano Matlwa has written this book in fast moving parts the first in Ofilwe s voice, while the second is written in Fikile aka Fiks s voice At one point another voice is added that of Ofilwe s brother, Tshepo providing a much needed counterpoint and I was disappointed not to hear from him When Fikile saysI need to spring clean my head There is a real big mess up there but I am too afraid to go in because I do not think I have the strength to handle the task of tidying it allmight she be uttering the emotions behind Matlwa s need to lay these relentless truths on the table I craved some tenderness or the presence of a wise parent, teacher, or mentor however, their absence did not make this book less readable The scattered english spoken by Ofilwe s mother seemed to be both metaphor and symbol for the clash of sensibilities present in post apartheid South Africa I m glad the Afro Book Club brought this book to my attention. Are You Getting White With MeRediscovery Blog Leg IX Cracking the Coconut with Dr Matlwa Dear Kopano,You are roughly half my age, yet somehow you have written a book that is unnervingly mature in its dissection of a theme that, in my opinion, is the placenta that feeds many of the world s great novels the quest for identity and autonomy To be quite honest, I was expecting African chicklit Fortunately, you gave me a whole lot The purpose of my Voyage of Rediscovery is to broaden my horizons and to explore worlds that are generally inaccessible to a middle aged, white guy which is, sadly, what I have turned out to be That means I read fiction in the hope that it reflects fact in such way that I am forced to reconsider my perceptions of the real world my real world In short, a good book raises questions And your produced plenty of milk for my hungry mind.To keep things in perspective, I have boiled my many musings down to a single train of thought even blending metaphors to extract the coconutty essence of it all.You may be interested to hear that the Creole community in Holland have their own term for coconuts They refer to people who are brown outside but white inside as Bounties a reference to a popular chocolate bar which has a white, coconut filling how apt This implies that the pursuit of whiteness whatever that may be is not only frowned upon in South Africa, but also in Amsterdam, where race is not necessarily a hot issue All this brings to mind the odd expression Are you getting white with me I m not sure if this is still commonly used in South Africa, but in my youth it served to firmly remind supposedly inferior parties of all races of their place in the pecking order All of these terms coconut, Bounty, white are almost invariably expressed at an interpersonal level in reference to perceived attempts to achieve or express superiority I suppose it all boils down to that age old question Do you think you re better than me This blunt shard of rhetoric becomes even lethal when it is dipped in racial poison In essence, the coconut or Bounty is accused of misplaced superiority with regard to an entire race or community, and not just at an interpersonal level What I find intriguing is that, to my knowledge, none of the characters in your book is ever accused of being a coconut However, they all portray various dimensions of this theme Fifi wants to be accepted by her white friends Fiks wants to escape her dire circumstances Uncle has allowed himself to be exploited to consolidate the superiority of his white bosses and Tshepo is struggling to achieve superiority on his own terms.Your book is especially impressive in that it does not choose sides, but allows characters to play out different dimensions of the struggle for identity, autonomy and superiority Naturally, the encounters between these different characters also offer highly provocative food for thought.That said, I am sure Coconut will be a source of endless debate once it becomes required reading at South African high schools I wish I could listen in on these discussions, if only to confirm that the issue at hand has as many dimensions as there are people. An excellent but disturbing look at the lives of two black girls living in post aparteid South Africa One has the support of family and money whilst the other has neither Both girls have dreams about making it in the world but to achieve those dreams there is an underlying pressure to fit in, to conform, to assimilate into the culture that gives the most opportunities, the white culture They aspire to be accepted into white society and reap the benefits The tension it creates while challenging them and spurs them on, also start to change them and crush their links with their own language, community and culture One girl grows up rejecting the language of her family and can now only speak English, the other resents having to use public transport with other black people and looks down on them When asked in school what she wanted to be when she grew up her answer was, I want to be white The two girls pull away from their black communities and roots but are not really accepted in white society People look through them, not seeing them, just their skin As and opportunites are made available to black people in South Africa, will this type of tension increase Will the scramble for material wealth result in the complete rejection of traditional values and culture For the country s sake, I hope not. This was a 3 read for me.My thoughts This was a quick read once I got use to the author s writing style This book is divided into two parts each part telling the story of a girl in the post apartheid South Africa from different economic statuses the girls do not know each other and there is only one scene in the book where they unknowingly meet briefly For me the sum of the two stories works better than the parts of the story so it was after reading the book that the storylines were informative and valuable in the messaging I thought the author was a very astute observer of issues faced by young women and could eloquently write about the issues in a universal political context without being preaching especially for her young age at the time she wrote the book The author did a good job of showing the legacy of colonized consciousness as it relates to appearance of women as they want to gain power and recognition I would read future works by the author. 2010 2007 Fake it till you make it At the very end of this book, Kopano Matlwa writes, I do not know how to make it pretty I do not know how to mask it It is not a piece of literary genius It is overdone and definitely not newsworthy But it is the story we have to tell I agree that the writing is generally not captivating, although at times it is very poetic I ran into some frustrations with the style, especially in the first half so much so that I almost stopped reading it But the first few pages of the second half really grabbed me and I m glad I stuck with it, because the two parts really work well together I also agree that this is a story that needs to be told it is primarily a story of identity and colonialism, specifically black identity in present day South Africa, and it was this aspect of the book that found the most interesting and thought provoking At times the writing is very blunt but I definitely appreciate the importance of what she is saying. Having been called a coconut all my life, this book caught my attention immediately It captured the dual world influence that young Black South African s brought up in the suburbs and exposed to Westernised settings like my self experience It is, in my opinion, so culturally and socially relevant and well written I was just upset I hadn t written it first lol Her writing carries a lot of depth and insight. Kopano dared to talk about how us, the post apartheid black people of South Africa perceive what is important and what is not, in order for us to survive and prosper Sadly but true, the repressive colonial and apartheid systems we ve been under made us regard our languages and everything African as inferior We are black but propagate the European agenda and dreams for our own lives and those of our children.Nonetheless life will forever remind a person who she is, through the frustrations and the hurt a person goes through while trying to be what she is not The emotional, physical, financial and health implications, and the string of failures will forever be there Black women in South Africa buy artificial hair, apply scalp damaging relaxers on their nappy hair, and wear clothes that even a blind man can see were not designed for the African figure We send our children to English medium schools and frawn upon those who cannot afford to There is also a huge socio economic divide as seen between Fikile and Ofilwe s families Irrespective of the economic disparity, these groups are all coconuts, wanting to live and be like Europeans, and those who have the money, seeking validation from the Europeans and embarassed by their own inherent African ways of doinf things I hope it is not too late for South Africans and other Africans to realise to heed to grandma s story about the the apples and the pear That is the truth and nothing else but the truth We can have less stressed happier and progressive people in this country, who appreciate others, without wanting to be like them. Matlwa sorta captured this book in her self conscious dedication apology at the end I do not know how to make it pretty I do not know how to mask it It is not a piece of literary genius It is the story of our lives It is our story, told in our own words as we feel it every day It is boring It is plain It is overdone and definitely not newsworthy But it is the story we have to tell.Not because it s bad at all, but because it sacrifices traditional structure in favour of meaning, of trying to examine the complicated tangled emotions of South Africa It s a bit weird and experimental, the narration seesawing between past and present in little bite sized vignettes, hopping around the lives of the two black girls who bridge the two halves of the book It s plotless it s really just a glimpse into their lives, an examination of Blackness racial identity self image self worth in South Africa And because of that, it s important it s a not often discussed perspective and you can hear Matlwa s anxiety and distress in the pages, as their African culture is washed away and erased by western whiteness, as their colonisers complete their colonisation by winning over the minds of black children, into wanting to be like them, look like them, become white Our two protagonists are framed as rather silly, optimistic girls, but their surface level superficiality belies some deeper, darker systemic problems.It s a great, heartbreaking portrait of internalised racism unconscious self loathing Hence the title coconut, for being white on the inside, brown on the outside Found this via the Guardian s YA Around the World list, for my reading bingo I ll happily read from that list bc I think it s so important to read YA books that aren t set in your metaphorical backyard.Favourite quotes view spoiler Unlike some of my female friends, I do not have a picture of an ideal husband in mind nor am I certain whether I even fancy one.Strangely enough, I think about my future children quite a bit I imagine lovely round dimpled faces and Colgate smiles running past sticky walls In my dreams they are painted in shades of pink I am afraid of what that means We dare not eat with our naked fingertips, walk in generous groups, speak merrily in booming voices and laugh our mqombothi laughs They will scold us if we dare, not with their lips, Lord, because the laws prevent them from doing so, but with their eyes They will shout, Stop acting black Stop acting black is what they will shout And we will pause, perplexed, unsure of what that means, for are we not black, Father No, not in the malls, Lord We may not be black in restaurants, in suburbs and in schools Oh, how it nauseates them if we even fantasise about being black, truly black The old rules remain and the old sentiments are unchanged We know, Lord, because those disapproving eyes scold us still that crisp air of hatred and disgust crawls into our wide open nostrils still Where does an unused language go Is it packed away in an old crumbly cereal box along with a misplaced tomato, your old locker code, first telephone number and the location of your budgie s grave, and then shoved into the dusty garage space of your brain Or is it blown up or deleted or is it shredded up into a gazillion fragments or degenerated or decomposed into a nasty smell and excreted out of your body Could it all possibly be flushed away My own tongue escaped from me completely That cannot be Mama and Daddy speak it all the time, although not to me nor to each other But surely my eardrums filter in some of that It was only when I d finished scheming, plotting graphs and typing out my method, that I realised how many gaping holes I had in my head There I was battling to put sentences together, speaking in the slightest of whimpers, hoping that Daddy would pretend, out of pity, that he understood so that I would not be forced to repeat the mumbo jumbo I had spewed out Each word ended in a shudder, a cringe When Ofilwe puts up a collage of people I thought were the greatest breathing beings of our time on her bedroom wall, and her brother shouts at her to take them down The rest that followed was a jumble A jumble I can barely remember, except for the word white White White White There was not a single face of colour on the wall I had not noticed Honest It was only after he pointed it out that I saw it too I mean, why on earth would I do something like that intentionally What did it matter anyway It was purely a coincidence perhaps there were no black faces I liked in the magazines I cut out from None at all I looked around once and then at Tshepo In his eyes I saw what was only to hit me many years from then Father, I do not doubt that you love your children, she would say I do not doubt that you love all your children Stressing the all I do not doubt that you made us all as equals, I do not doubt that when you created this earthly home, that all within was for us all to share I do not doubt, Lord, that some day it will be as you intended And then she would begin to sob But which day, Lord On which day will it be as you desired I need to spring clean my head There is a real big mess up there but I am too afraid to go in because I do not think I have the strength to handle the task of tidying it all It is a long time since I was there last I am scared of what I may find I am fearful of the cluttered floor, the dusty shelves, the locked cases, the stuffed drawers, the broken bulbs and the cracked windows hide spoiler

Podcast with Kopano Matlwa by Victor Dlamini May 5th, 2008

[PDF] ✓ Coconut Author Kopano Matlwa –
  • Paperback
  • 198 pages
  • Coconut
  • Kopano Matlwa
  • English
  • 20 April 2019
  • 9781770093362

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