Accepted paper:

Green Man Flashing: Exploring the Place of the Individual Voice in the Newly Democratic South Africa


Yvette Hutchison (Warwick University)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

South Africa has a particularly complex relationship to postcoloniality insofar as it became ‘postcolonial’ in the accepted sense in 1910, with independence from Britain, but only democratic form 1994. In between these dates the struggle for freedom of speech and rights for all has been the focus of the country and its Arts, particularly in the latter forty years. Mike van Graan’s play Green man Flashing premiered at the Grahamstown Arts Festival in 2004, and it explores the contradictions, complexities and ironies of a nascent non-racial, non-sexist new democracy. It asks if “there’s a taxi coming down the road at eighty kilometres an hour and its not going to stop, despite the traffic lights being red and the green man flashing in your favour. Would you still cross the road?” (2006;207) This paper hopes to frame the consequences of setting precedent in SA, particularly that of the TRC, to see how the past has affected the possibility of all South Africans, but especially women, to practice their constitutional right to freedom of expression, and the right to legal justice in the face of new political imperatives. It explores the contradictions between human rights and patriotic duty; while juxtaposing the greater collective good against justice for an individual. In this sense it directly relates to all peoples engaged with issues around democracy and freedom of speech, the ethics of engagement, particularly of culturally diversified societies in other African countries.

panel D1
Local Governance & Individual Voices