The novel Fools and other stories is a collection of five earthy stories. Through the stories Ndebele analyzes the complexities, struggles and problems of the life of black South Africans who are confined to the numerous townships of the country.
Njabulo Ndebele exhibit wonderful skill in creating interesting, attractive, characters. Author has utilized excellent writing techniques in the stories. The stories reveal the negative effects of the practice of apartheid and its consequences on people. The stories also explain the struggle of the people who were subjected to the iron rule of that period. The impressive stories of the novel explain the shocking effects of racism on a debauched old school teacher and his former student who became an activist. We can see each and every character of the story being troubled by the wicked practice of apartheid. Ndebele cleverly explain the sad plight of black South Africans. They had to opt for complex survival and resistance methods for being safe in that land. The great insight of the author illustrated these tales in an impressive way. Author has used different writing techniques for each of the stories in the collection. The stories are set in the black South African township of Charterston. Author spent his childhood here and has got first hand experience about the black struggle for survival and human dignity and their sufferings from apartheid.
The author has employed the very best dialogue and also has an excellent eye for noticing the minutest visual details. He also possesses special skills to beautifully depict the complex relationships between children and adults. Even though the title story ‘Fools’ is the best in the collection, other stories also are of high quality. All the stories are vignettes of the struggles of the South African people of those periods. The characters are well developed and they appear too real to the reader. Personal experiences of the author made the stories too lively and original.
All the five stories explain different experiences of South African black people. The first story ‘The Test’is about a young black boy and the way he relates to this world and those around him. Several small but significant issues turn into major points of contention in this story. The story is in the form of a social commentary. The author wonderful depicts the lives of small boys in the township. The next story ‘The Prophetess’ is somewhat similar to the first one in the flow. The author emphasizes the power of simplicity through the story. This story is also set in a township where a sick mother sent her son to fetch holy water from a prophetess so that she would be healed. The author explains the power of mind through this story; the power of mind to bring healing in human body. Author tells the third story ‘Uncle’ through the consciousness of a small boy. Simplicity and innocence exhibited by the people in the midst of suffering is well portrayed in this story. The story is about a boy’s relationship with his uncle. This uncle teaches him the central values of life, the roles of the family, ethics, sex, morality and various other things. The story is lengthy and explains the township. The next story the ‘The Music of the Violin’ is about black men’s values. It speaks of artificiality and falsehood and a life which is far away from reality. Reality and artificiality are explained here. Finally the title story ‘Fools’ Speak of a middle-aged teacher who destroys his image in the eyes of the community by raping a schoolgirl and misusing church funds. The author has thus utilized different themes and writing techniques in the stories, in the collection Fools and other stories
Njabulo S. Ndebele, Fools and Other Stories, Readers International, 1986.