Against Financialization as Freedom: Errant Investments in Kopano Matlwa's Coconut and Rehad Desai's Everything Must Fall
- ariel: A Review of International English Literature
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 52, Numbers 3-4, July-October 2021
- pp. 63-94
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This article explores investment and inheritance across the generational divide between South Africa's so-called born frees and the protest cultures of the post-Fallism era. Positing that colonized worlds generate investments, financially and affectively, in whiteness and antiblackness, I consider how various South African cultural texts perform labours of disinheritance and disinvestment against the limited legacies racial capitalism bequeaths on its subjects. I analyze texts ranging from the online #Tipgate scandal of 2015 to poetry by Lebogang Mashile, Kopano Matlwa's novel Coconut (2007), and Rehad Desai's film Everything Must Fall (2018). In the context of a post-apartheid discourse that has structured freedom around notions of financial mobility inherited from racial capitalism, I argue that these texts refuse the lifelines supplied by Eurocentric market capital and direct their subjects toward Afrocentric futures. These futures often involve rejecting the financial as the exclusive metric of social value in post-apartheid South Africa. I discuss the limits of financial freedoms in born free narratives about family and collectivity and in Fallist protests over the Eurocentric legacies of the university. Rejecting pejorative renderings of decolonial work in the Fallist period as essentially destructive—an allegation that, I suggest, derives from paradigms of inherited Eurocentric value—the article emphasizes how the texts under discussion participate in the labour of dismantling certain inheritances and cultivating alternate possible futures.