Against Financialization as Freedom: Errant Investments in Kopano Matlwa’s <i>Coconut</i> and Rehad Desai’s <i>Everything Must Fall</i>


  • Jesse Arseneault Concordia University


South Africa, Fallism, inheritance, investment, racial capitalization, decolonization


This paper explores investment and inheritance across South Africa’s so-called Born Free generation and its transition into the protest cultures of the post-Fallism era. Positing that colonized worlds generate investments, financially and affectively, in whiteness and antiblackness, the analysis considers how various South African cultural texts perform labours of disinheritance and disinvestment against the limited legacies racial capitalism bequeaths on its subjects. The essay analyzes texts ranging from the online #Tipgate scandal of 2015, poetry by Lebogang Mashile, Kopano Matlwa’s novel, Coconut, and Rehad Desai’s film, Everything Must Fall. In the context of a post-apartheid discourse that has structured freedom around notions of financial mobility inherited from racial capitalism, the analysis argues that these texts refuse the lifelines afforded by Eurocentric market capital and errantly direct their worlds toward Afrocentric futures. These futures often involve rejecting the financial as the exclusive metric of social value within post-apartheid South Africa’s commodified worlds. The paper discusses the limits of financial freedoms in Born Free narratives at the site of family and collectivity, and in Fallist protest at the site of the wider publics enrolled in the Eurocentric legacies of the university, those Fallism explicitly sought to dismantle. Rejecting pejorative renderings of decolonial work in the Fallist period as essentially destructive—an allegation that, the paper suggests, derives from paradigms of inherited Eurocentric value—the paper emphasizes the way that its central texts participate in the labour of not only dismantling certain inheritances, but of cultivating alternate possible futures as well.


Author Biography

Jesse Arseneault, Concordia University

Jesse Arseneault (he/him) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Concordia University specializing in South African literatures and cultures. His work focuses primarily queer and other-than-human life in postcolonial thought and has appeared in journals such as Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, Postcolonial Text, Critical Arts, and English Studies in Canada.