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Simao Kikamba

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE


My Home in Exile is not to be confounded with “Home and Exile”, Chinua Achebe’s masterly account of cultural imperialism and dispossession Africa has always suffered, a mischaracterization spearheaded through works such as Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”.

My Home in Exile is merely a reflection on my tireless attempts to find a home, away from home in light of the recent xenophobic violence that has forced many foreigners from their homes, leaving 62 people dead. When Africans tell other Africans to go home, I ask myself, “What’s home?” “Is home where I was born?” “Is it where I grew up?” Is it where I live now?” “Is home not where I choose to live my life?” “Is home defined by borders imposed upon us by outsiders, in some instances splitting villages, towns and nations?”
This reflection is as much an attempt to understand myself, for I write in order to understand myself, where I come from, who I am, as it is to denounce this cancer called xenophobia whose recent violent narrative has tainted South Africa’s image here and abroad. In 2005, I tried to engage the public on this issue, when I published “Going Home”, my debut novel based on my experience as a black immigrant in this country, a novel that received acclaim and an award. By then I had been living in South Africa for nearly 11 years as a political refugee from Angola.
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