A campaign against 1950s’ apartheid

2012-01-04 00:00

A STORY of an intellectual’s upbringing during the apartheid era, Children of Paradise is about Professor Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane’s ups and downs as a child growing up in the now extinct Old Location, Brakpan, outside Johannesburg, in the fifties.

Mzamane gives an account of how people, despite being confined to certain areas, pushed hard to make their voices heard, and defied the system, leading to the various campaigns against the regime, up to the anti-pass march by the women of that era.

Although his mother Constance had a steady job at a local non­European hospital, she was never left out of community meetings, discussing strategies to make their voices heard. This would later invite trouble for the family, as the father of the house himself was seldom at home, attending meetings with comrades in other parts of the country.

Mzamane would be left in the care of neighbours who kept the fire burning in the households, while other comrades were planning the downfall of the system of that time.

One such neighbour was Gerty, who was affectionately called Ma­Ngwanya (her clan name), who made a living by entertaining men who were willing to spend money on alcohol, while she contributed with music and cooking.

Read the book for the unfolding of events, and to see how the women finally decided that enough was enough.

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