Saturday, January 24, 2009

Afrika by Colleen Craig

This is historical fiction. During apartheid in South Africa Xhosa tribesmen(native blacks), coloreds(mixed race), Indians were treated very badly by white Afrikaners (Boers). They could be dragged from their homes, which were really just shacks) beaten, imprisoned and never seen again. They had few or no rights. When apartheid was abolished and black man Nelson Mandela was made president of South Africa, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created. Both Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu believed that by allowing whites, who committed crimes against blacks, coloreds and Indians, to tell their stories and ask for forgiveness and amnesty, then the country could be healed and move forward. Many, who had suffered under the tyranny of the Whites did not feel the same way and protested, often violently. This the setting in which the story is written. Riana is a journalist from Canada, she is white and a native of South Africa. When she was a college student she became involved in demonstrations against apartheid and fell in love with a fellow student of mixed race and became pregnant. She was in disfavor with her family and knew how hard a life her mixed race child would have under apartheid and left. Hendrik chose not to abandon his country. Thirteen years after leaving, Riana is returning to cover the Truth and Reconciliation hearings for her agency in Canada. She has brought along her nappy haired, brown eyed daughter who knows nothing of her father or events that lead to Riana's leaving. Riana who has herself experienced traumatic events under apartheid is in turns apprehensive, depressed and reluctant to see her father, brother again, visit the family farm, and face Lettie a former slave now servant. Daughter Kim is determined to find her father and learn about the past her mother has kept secret. Lettie will be going before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as will the man who murdered her son. Lettie's grandson, Themba makes friends with Kim and introduces her to life in South Africa, all that is good and bad, and tries to help her find her father and come to terms with her mother's long silence and current struggles. As reviews state this is a vivid picture of a troubled country trying to move forward after apartheid. The truth matters, what you do with that truth matters more. Read this...

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