The novella Fools is the title story from the highly acclaimed collection Fools and Other Stories, winner of the Noma Award in 1984. In this work, as in all his writings, Njabulo Ndebele challenges the stereotypical and life-negating notion of the helpless, passive victim. By focusing attention on the everyday lives and dilemmas of ordinary people struggling under the oppression of apartheid, he not only exposes the system's destructive evils but also asserts the resourcefulness of spirit - the active and life-affirming qualities - of people resisting tyranny. Fools, which is set in the 1960s, is notable for its concern with individuals and the complex subtleties of character as opposed to the outward expression of political struggle. Zamani is a middle-aged schoolteacher who has brought disgrace upon himself and has lost the respect of his community and the opportunity to fulfill a leadership role.;He lives a haunted and impoverished life. Zani is a young and idealistic student activist who has returned to South Africa from school in Swaziland full of political anger and the aspiration to mobilise Charterston Township. Linked by a sordid event in Zamani's past, both men are forced to re-examine their lives and, as their complex relationship evolves in the context of a country edging towards upheaval, they are eventually able to face each other with new compassion and dignity as a result of their journeys of self-discovery and personal growth. The editor, Dr Bhekizizwe Peterson, teaches in the Department of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand. He provides editorial support in the form of a discussion of the main themes, questions and topics for discussion and written work, and a bibliography.
Njabulo S. Ndebele