Capturing the world of the Cape

2008-04-23 00:00

THIS book is not so much a novel as a lyrical love poem to Africa and its people. Peter Merrington’s characters dance through the perfectly captured world of the Cape, from the deep forest of the Tsitsikamma, to the harbour of Kalk Bay, from the leafy suburbs of Gardens to the clanging harshness of Salt River.

Merrington’s observations are acute and colourful. His language is poetic and beautiful. And his characters are eccentric and unforgettable.

There’s Malibongwe, the sangoma, and his newly rescued Twasa or apprentice, Anna. Malibongwe rescues Anna from the cruel tyranny of Tannie Patat and her unscrupulous husband, Oom Skorsie, just before Oom Skorsie begins to sell Anna’s youthful charms to the tourist trade. The relationship between the sangoma and his Twasa is similar to that between Arthur and Merlin (especially one kitchen scene which is just like one from Disney’s The Sword and the Stone).

There is one big difference though. Malibongwe falls in love with Anna. They follow adventures throughout the Cape. In one instance they turn a billiard ball (and a few other crucial items) into an elephant and avert a potential disaster in the centre of Cape Town.

Then there’s John Dory and his other fishy mates, drinking their way into the early hours, while their wives clean and sell the fish they’ve caught. There’s also the romantic archaeologist who falls in love with a statue in a graveyard. Then there’s a lover of antique books who finds the love of his life who, for once, is not a book.

If you’re looking for a novel which you can read in a straight sitting from beginning to end, maybe this book isn’t for you. But if you are looking for the South African equivalent of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milkwood, Peter Merrington does for the Cape and its people what Dylan Thomas did for Wales.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.