Postapartheid Anti-blackness in Kopano Matlwa’s Coconut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reads Kopano Matlwa’s debut novel, Coconut, as a critical reflection on the incomplete work of social, economic, and juridical inclusion. It outlines inconclusive episodes in the lives of two young black women: Ofilwe, a member of a rarified upper middle class, and Fikile, ensnared in grinding poverty. Drawing on Denise Ferreira Da Silva and Calvin Warren, the paper shows how Matlwa addresses the uncritical embrace of this racist and historically oppressive discourse among nominally free blacks, both among enduringly destitute slum dwellers and the emergent nouveau riche. In the novel, social death comes in the form of internalized anti-blackness as the two young black women featured in the novel doggedly pursue white identities as a means for successful existence in postapartheid South Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-177
Number of pages17
JournalResearch in African Literatures
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory

Cite this