Last updated: 9 june, 2010 - 13:12 GMT

Africa

South Africa's Path to Freedom

In the 1960s, Wole Soyinka's was one of the many voices raised against South Africa's Apartheid. He now makes a special journey to the country to meet some of the key writers who lived through the turbulent years of oppression and conflict.

In Part One he talks to writers and artists in Johannesburg who lived through Apartheid.

In Part Two he explores the impact of Apartheid on the new generation of intellectuals and activists in Cape Town.

Part One

Wole Soyinka in South Africa

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Wole Soyinka talks to fellow Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer about the new generation of South African writers, and to Nanda Soobben, the first and only Apartheid-era black political cartoonist.

At the Constitutional Court, he meets Albie Sachs, a former judge who was instrumental in setting up the legal framework for the new nation. They all shed light on how post-Apartheid South Africa has evolved.

He also meets the new young black writers who are interpreting their world through fiction.

In Johannesburg Wole Soyinka visits the local FM radio station to speak to Karabo Kgoleng, who gives her take on modern South Africa, and the township of Alexandra to see if living conditions have actually improved. He also stops by at the legendary Market Theatre.

This is a journey through old and new South Africa by a man who truly understands the work of the African writer. It sheds fresh light on the problems of the past and the challenges of the future for the society that now makes up the rainbow nation.

First broadcast on BBC World Service 9 June 2010.

Part Two

Wole Soyinka in South Africa

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In Cape Town, Wole Soyinka meets the new young black writers who are interpreting their world through fiction.

He speaks to a local poet who says that, “sometimes South Africa can be extremely exhausting and depressing because people are just misrepresenting each other. Eighty percent of the time I am extremely pessimistic.”

But at the University of Cape Town Wole Soyinka witnesses a powerful demonstration by politicised black students campaigning for better library facilities. He also meets a young South African professor of Indian origin, who gives an insight into the generational changes in attitudes towards Apartheid.

How much has South Africa changed? According to Antjie Krog, author of the seminal work Country of My Skull, which is about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, “the tone of the country was white, but it was a black sound you heard…we have to learn to become black.”

Finally, Wole Soyinka calls in at Cape Town’s Fugard Theatre, named after the political playwright Athol Fugard. In a dramatic twist, the two end up on stage together as they consider their shared histories.

This is a journey through old and new South Africa by a man who truly understands the work of the African writer. It sheds fresh light on the problems of the past and the challenges of the future for the society that now makes up the rainbow nation.

First broadcast on BBC World Service 16 June 2010.

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