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South Africa’s renowned activist features at China’s prestigious event

The South African Embassy in Beijing, in collaboration with the Metallurgical Industry Press, will host eminent South African anti-apartheid activist, poet, playwright and author, Mr Mandla Langa, for the launch of the Mandarin translation of his novel “The Texture of Shadows “, on 19 January 2017, in Beijing.


The Texture of Shadows (Picador Africa, 2014), is the first South African novel (fiction) to be translated into Mandarin. Few people know what went on in the struggle in South Africa between apartheid government forces and the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe (MK). The Texture of Shadows casts some light on this, exploring the inside story of MK soldiers and offering a frank view of the underbelly of the liberation movement as well as the complex post-liberation narrative.


The story is set in South Africa in 1989 amid murmurs of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and the unbanning of national liberation movements by the apartheid state. A band of exiled People’s Army soldiers returns to South Africa after spending years in Angola, with orders to carry and deliver a sealed trunk with highly classified contents to an unspecified destination. It is a mission that makes them a target as different parties set out to separate the men from the trunk and its mysterious contents, setting the stage for several fierce conflicts between various factions, interspersed with chronicles of hope and love.

Bhuti Mandla Langa was born in Stanger (Kwa-Dukuza) in Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, South Africa in 1950 and after completing school in Durban, moved to the Eastern Cape where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree (English and Philosophy) at the iconic University of Fort Hare. From 1972 to 1976, he served as the Director of the South African Student Organisation’s Cultural Affairs, responsible for organising and promoting black cultural activities and disseminating literature, associating himself with the rise and spread of the Black Consciousness Movement. In 1976, Langa was arrested on a charge of planning to leave South Africa illegally, and was imprisoned for over three months until he managed to escape to Botswana – the beginning of his exile. He has lived in Lesotho and Zambia (undergoing military training) as well as in Mozambique, Angola, Hungary and the United Kingdom. Langa is married to June Josephs and they have two daughters.


In 1980 he won the pan-African Drum Magazine story contest for his short story “The Dead Men Who Lost Their Bones” and in 1991 he was awarded the Arts Council of Great Britain Bursary, the first South African to receive this prestigious award. He was Deputy Chief Representative and Cultural Representative of the African National Congress (ANC) in the UK and Vice-Chair of the africa95 Exhibition in London and was a weekly columnist of the Sunday Independent.

His published works include: Tenderness of Blood (Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1987), A Rainbow on a Paper Sky (Kliptown Books, London,1989), The Naked Song and Other Stories (David Philip Publishers, Cape Town,1997); The Memory of Stones (DPP, 2000) and The Lost Colours of the Chameleon (Picador Africa, 2008). He has won several awards including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Africa Region in March 2009.  In 2007 he received the country’s National Order of Ikhamanga (Silver) for his literary, journalistic and cultural achievements and was the recipient of a Living Legends Award from the eThekwini Municipality in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The Metallurgical Industry Press (MIP) is a national publishing house founded in 1953 in China.  MIP publishes more than 500 titles of works across several fields, leveraging off its country-wide distributional network.

In addition to the official book launch, which will take place at the South African Embassy (by invitation only), Mr Langa will also undertake a series of media interviews and conduct a reading of The Texture of Shadows at The Bookworm Café on Friday, 20 January 2017 at 19:30.

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Source: South African Embassy in Beijing : Jan 20

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