Narrative, memory and mapping: Ronne Govender's "At the Edge" and Other Cato Manor Stories

Brown, Duncan (2005). Narrative, memory and mapping: Ronne Govender's "At the Edge" and Other Cato Manor Stories. In: Agoumy, Taoufik; Belghazi, Taieb and Richards, David eds. Urban generations: post-colonial cities. Conferences and colloquia (126). Rabat: Faculty of Letters of Rabat, pp. 297–313.


In At the Edge and Other Cato Manor Stories, Ronnie Govender offers a series of narratives of life in Cato Manor from the 1940s until its destruction in 1958/9. Against the strict delineation of identity, the control of space, a state narrative of racial separation and displacement, and an official cartography (of race and economics), Govender sets an unofficial cartography of knowing, belonging and growing, a stature in ordinary character, an oral-influenced mobility of storytelling, a carnivalesque chorus of voices, the ingenuity of tactic as well as the desolation of suffering and destruction which was to follow the bulldozing of Cato Manor and the forced removal of its residents. While the stories deal specifically with the destruction of Cato Manor, they resonate with larger claims about South African Indian identities, without simply essentialising or valorising them, and without constructing them as identities of exclusion or glossing over areas of difficulty or prejudice; questions of alienation, belonging, immigration, rootedness, exclusion, exoticism and indigeneity swirl through the narrative landscape of the collection.

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