Fran Hajat

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As a postgraduate student, what does postcolonial studies mean to you? Has this changed over the course of your studies?

Postcolonial studies revolutionised the way I view myself. I grew up in Zimbabwe and am a product of colonisation. These studies taught me about myself and forced me to question myself and my identity. My views have certainly changed. I am now more aware of cultural motivation on a local and global scale.

What motivated you to choose this course of study, and how do you see its relevance to the present day?

I have always loved reading postcolonial fiction. I just did not know it was labelled as such until I started university. Reading postcolonial literature I always found a common thread between myself and other Africans in that we shared colonisation and its impact on our lives. As a direct product of colonial imperialism I find this subject to be incredibly relevant. I also have to stress that this is not all negative, there are a host of positives – such as my love for English literature.

What motivated you to engage with these ideas through creative practice rather than more traditional forms of academic analysis?

I have always loved writing and find it therapeutic. There is so much to say and share about growing up in Africa. Plus I miss home, I keep on telling myself that only when I have lived in the UK longer than I lived in Zimbabwe, then will England become my home. There are so many African stories, fables and mythologies that are completely different to western mythologies that have not been explored yet in African postcolonial fiction. I find the lack of magic in African postcolonial literature surprising, because magic plays such an important role in traditional life. Story telling is an age old pleasure and tradition. As a writer I can share experiences and (hopefully) transport my audience to another world.

What about NTU/the Postcolonial Studies Centre made you decide to study here?

The team are so enthusiastic and passionate about what they do. I have learnt so much from them.

Who or what has been the most major influence on your writing and thinking? Why do you think this is so? 

Fantasy fiction is a major influence. Also Yvonne Vera – she taught me in secondary school and introduced me to my first novel with a black protagonist. Her work is so lyrical and moving. And Toni Morrison – she incorporates magic realism and postcolonial issues in a way I can relate to.

 

Interviewed by Sarah Pett, July 2015 

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