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Alternation Journal Publication Call for Papers

‘The Word is Paramount’: Critical Reflections on

Lesego Rampolokeng’s Oeuvre

(Sponsored by Alternation, and the Humanities Institute, UKZN)

Editor-in-Chief: Prof. J.A. Smit (UKZN)

Associate Editor: Prof Nobuhle Ndimande-Hlongwa (UKZN)

Guest editor: Dr Danyela Dimakatso Demir (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Expected publication date: February 2022

Lesego Rampolokeng’s first volume of poetry, Horns for Hondo, was published in 1990 and yet – despite the fact that he has produced a dozen books in which he crosses several genres from prose to poetry to drama, and though he has traversed several media (film and musical collaborations) – there has been relatively little engagement with his work except for scattered academic pieces and reviews. This special issue of Alternation aims at reflecting on his oeuvre.

Rampolokeng is not only a playwright, poet, and novelist, but also an archivist of voices that came before him, both here in South Africa and elsewhere. He comes from the lineage of Mafika Gwala, Aimé Céssaire, Frantz Fanon, and Linton Kwezi Johnson, amongst others. In the narrator of Bird-Monk Seding’s own words (2017 pp-17-18), this lineage is probably best described in the following words: “I draw inspiration from across the entire spectrum of the world’s literature, fine arts, music… painters Fikile Magadlela, Dumile Feni, Lefifi Tladi, Thami Mnyele have always been crucial to my writing. Visual artists with social conscience. And writers who cut out and stomp on whatever literary conventions enslave, from Lautreamont, Artaud, and Pasolini onward. The South African Blue Notes (Johnny Dyani, Mongezi Feza, Dudu Pukwana, etc) and where they took the music of this land, revolutionizing the euro-jazz scene. The Wole Soyinka of ‘Ogun Abibiman’. I came to black consciousness via Mafika Gwala. I carry Aimé Césaire in my head. Frantz Fanon is my father”.

With this lineage in mind, the special issue ventures to trace Rampolokeng’s own literary journey/history, intersections, and divergences within that lineage in his writing. At the same time it is a call to continue the archival work visible in his own oeuvre, but also to highlight his own influence on a younger generation of writers. This gathering of reflections should be seen as the beginning of a conversation about a crucial oeuvre largely overlooked by a broader and academic audience alike in order to commemorate and critically engage with Rampolokeng’s oeuvre in particular and Black (South) African literary histories at large. Ultimately, this is also a challenge to perhaps make sense of the notion of what José Esteban Munoz (1999) calls “communal mourning”, which permeates Rampolokeng’s oeuvre so strongly. Perhaps it is precisely this feeling of communal mourning which then may open up avenues of looking at (South) African literatures more broadly.

Topics and themes for articles of between 6000 and 8000 words for this special issue could be, but are not limited to:

  • the importance of Black Consciousness
  • the work of memory
  • trauma, grief, and rage
  • form, language, genre b(l)endings
  • performance/performativity
  • gender dynamics
  • forms of storing the archive: intermediality/intertextuality
  • and literary/musical crossovers in Rampolokeng’s oeuvre.
  • And related contextually-relevant themetisation/s


Topics and abstracts, and full articles should be sent to our specialist editor for this issue:

Dr Danyela Dimakatso Demir: with the subject line:

Lesego Rampolokeng.


  • 30 April 2021: Deadline for submission of topic and provisional abstract
  • 07 May 2021: Final date for acceptance of topics and abstracts
  • 15 September 2021: submission of accepted articles
  • 15 October 2021: Return of peer reviewed articles.
  • 15 November 2021: Submission of final versions of all articles
  • December 2021 - January 2022: Final proof reading and desk copy editing, phase.
  • February 2022: Publication


Munoz, José Esteban 1999. Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minnesota Press.

Rampolokeng, Lesego 1990. Horns for Hondo. COSAW. 

Rampolokeng, Lesego 1993. Talking Rain. COSAW.

Rampolokeng, Lesego 1998. End Beginnings. Marino Verlag.

Rampolokeng, Lesego 1998. Blue V’s. Edition Solitude.

Rampolokeng, Lesego [1999] 2019. The Bavino Sermons. Gecko Poetry; Deep South.

Rampolokeng, Lesego 2004. Blackheart: Epilogue to Insanity. Pineslopes..

Rampolokeng, Lesego 2005. Whiteheart: Prologue to Hysteria. Deep South.

Rampolokeng, Lesego 2010. Bantu Ghost – A Stream of (Black) Unconsciousness. Mehlo Maja.

Rampolokeng, Lesego 2012. Head on Fire: Rants /Notes /Poems. Deep South.

Rampolokeng, Lesego 2015. A Half Century Thing. Black Ghost Press.

Rampolokeng, Lesego 2017. Bird-Monk Seding. Deep South.



Alternation is a fully accredited, peer-reviewed South African Department of Higher Education and Training journal.

It is edited by Prof J.A. Smit, (DLItt), former Dean and Head of School, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, and School of Arts (Acting), and published at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, on the College of Humanities Open Access platform.

All articles are subject to peer-review by at least two independent peer reviewers. All articles that pass the review process, and that are accepted for publication, will be published online, at:

The Alternation homepage is available at:

For any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Prof Smit, or Prof Ndimande-Hlongwa,



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