• Welcome to the website of the French Institute of South Africa!

  • Bienvenue sur le site de l'Institut Français d'Afrique du Sud !

Book Presentation: On est Foutu

Book Presentation: ‘On est foutu’ 
by Matthews Mngadi 
As part of the Francophonie celebrations
31 March, Johannesburg | 1 April, Pretoria 
Free | Bookings This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BF - On est foutu AF JHB

Recently South African author Matthews Mngadi took part in the 18th Time of The Writer Festival to talk about literature. He will be visiting Johannesburg and Pretoria to talk more specifically about his book "On est foutu". Set in 1980s Apartheid-era, the story relates the challenging journey of a South African Zulu family who has to move to Durban to survive. 

His book written in Zulu was translated in French by French linguist Michel Lafon and his team. It is one of the first books to be translated directly from Zulu to French. 

Learn more about the novel and the process of translating with Matthews Mngadi and Michel Lafon.

Event Details

31 March at 19h30
Alliance française of Johannesburg, 17 Lower Park Drive, Corner Kerry Road, Parkview

1 April at 18h30
Alliance française of Pretoria, 99 Rivier Street, Sunnyside


Asikho ndawo bakithi, we are no where, by M.J. Mngadi

Life under stress. The consequences of the dire lack of accomodation
During apartheid, like so many others, the Dubazana - husband, wife, 2 children - set foot in Durban where Dubazana has found employment. They settle in Mlazi, Durban’s main township. However they cannot find a house and have to sublet. 
The book opens when they are removed from a room, the landlady accusing Mrs Dubazana of seducing her husband. From then on, they go from bad to worse. In a shebeen where they rent one visitor makes an attempt on Dubazana’s daughter. They have to go again. They come to a gangster’s house who sends his thugs to steal Dubazana ‘s money after pay-day and rape his wife. Afraid that worse is yet to come, they run for their life. Next step down takes them to a squatter camp marred by violence. The children are abducted. Dubazana’s daughter is raped, and, as we learn later, infected with HIV and impregnated. 
After such harrowing times, some reprieve when they meet the Thabekhulu, a well-to-do family who takes pity on them and offers accomodation in their decent house. This is not to last. As Dubazana, scared that his wife is infected, stays away from her, she seeks confort with the landlord. Both organize for Dubazana to get arrested on trumped up charges. Suspicious Mrs Thabekhulu leaves and moves back to her sister’s over-crowded matchbox. Her two children also fell prey to the circumstances. Thabekhulu and Dubazana’s wife try to amend through charity work. Dubazana’s daughter gives birth and campaigns for the acceptance of AIDS sufferers. Dubazana’s wife has found decent employment. But a dark cloud hangs over them. Upon Dubazana’s unexpected return, out of guilt his wife helps her lover to kill him. Dubazana’s son who overheard the fight escapes. He joins the youth roaming the streets, eventually becoming their inflamed leader. In the last scene, the wild youth seize Thabekhulu and burn him alive. Dubazana’s wife is the only one who can, seemingly, look to a brighter future.

Books - Events & News

  • Events and News

    Dibuka - the francophone multimedia library of Johannesburg

    Dibuka is a multi-media library focussing on France and contemporary francophone culture, the result of a partnership between the French Embassy in South Africa, the French Institute of South Africa and the Alliance française of Johannesburg.The library offers to the general public almost 20 000… Read more
  • Nicolas Fargue
    Events and News

    French writer Nicolas Fargues invited at the Franschhoek Literary Festival from 18 to 20 May

    Nicolas Fargues is the guest French writer of the Franschhoek literary festival this year from 19 to 20 May. He is then invited by the French embassy to make a tour in 3 universities to meet the students of French language & francophone literature, from 21 to 25 May: UCT, UKZN, WITS. Biography… Read more
  • open book banner
    Events and News

    Open Book Festival Cape Town | 6-10 Sept

    Open Book Festival at The Fugard Theatre is an annual literary festival, the first of which happened in 2011. The hubs will once again be the Fugard Theatre, The District 6 Museum Homecoming Centre and much-loved indie bookshop, The Book Lounge. The French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), the… Read more


According to your personal taste and interests, Frenchlinks helps you get in touch with the French speaking community and agencies in South Africa and Lesotho. Learn more...

I'm a writer of the world

Patrick Chamoiseau with Nadine Gordimer during the French Season in South Africa

See video