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Once in a while a publisher receives a book submission that makes them sit back in their chair, read out loud what is in front of them and laugh at the pure joy the writing and imagery evoke. This was the case with the first three short stories author Yusuf Daniels submitted to Jacana Media.
They were instantly recognisable. They were funny as hell. The nostalgia, triggered by the mere mention of a sight, sound or smell, instantly transported the reader to a time and place that spoke to Coloured culture and lived experiences on the Cape Flats and surrounding townships. There was something magical about the way Daniels recollected his memories from his childhood in those first three stories, which he had also posted on Facebook, eliciting a slew of likes, shared experiences and feedback from his followers to “write more” and “do you remember, Yussie …”.
Living Coloured (because Black and White were Already Taken) is a compilation of short stories that is an ode to an era all Cape Coloured people will instantly recognise – from the nightclubbing at Space Odyssey and the shenanigans at the Mitchells Plain public swimming pool, to the traditions of delectable food exchanges during Ramadan among Muslims and Christians, alike. This book truly is a tribute to all that the Coloured community holds dear and sings of the spirit which helped them eek out an existence on the dusty flat plains of the Cape.
But as you read story after story, you will also be confronted with the blatant racism that was the Group Areas Act, the legacy of a people removed and dumped in this windswept place that wasn’t of their own making, and the constant forging ahead to make life worthwhile under very harsh political and economic circumstances. The stories will also leave you seething with anger at the sheer brutality of what this community had to endure (and still do), while their black counterparts in the township next door lived even harsher realities.
South African born-and-raised Hollywood screenwriter Helena Kriel is researching the ancient text of the Kama Sutra for a movie she’s writing. At the same time, she is travelling to India to meet with sages and find answers to the universal challenges of sex and love. While searching for love in her doomed relationships, little does she know she will find her answers in caring for her dying brother, Evan, in South Africa.
Set in the mid-1990s, South Africa is just emerging from the darkness of apartheid and bursting with vibrant chaos. The story zooms in on an intense year in the narrator’s life. It centres around the lively and eccentric South African Kriel family: Maya, the combative but inspired mother; Lexi, the sister recently returned from living in a temple in India; Ross, the younger brother diving with sharks; and Helena, the narrator, herself on a journey to understand love and death. At the heart of the story is Evan, her terminally ill 30-year-old gay brother, who has been keeping his illness a shameful secret. Conscious, sensitive, terrified and trying to hang onto sanity as his world changes, Evan becomes paralysed then finally goes blind as death draws ever closer. But it is Evan who leads the family through the fire.
In living through her brother’s fight to stay alive, the narrator finds herself at the heart of a savage story, one she would not have chosen. How could she know when she set out to India to find ancient solutions to the modern problems of our age that her brother’s approaching death would be her greatest teacher? How could she imagine that dying brings everything to life?
The Year Of Facing Fire is an astoundingly written memoir by one of South Africa’s finest writers. It traverses universal themes including love, death and sex, and finds value in the ordinary and great beauty in the uncertain.
Lenerd Louw shares his journey of learning and awakening.
Jump is a book about Lenerd Louw's experiences including his playboy lifestyle in Cape Town, the difficulty and confusion when a massive internal shift occurred in him, the decision to walk away from it all, starting the outer journey all around the world whilst doing the tough deep inner journey at the same time. It includes his two-year period of celibacy at the start of his travels, his travels to fascinating places and his learnings at each place. It’s a story of personal expansion and awakening, of surrender, of trust and of transformation.
He sees the same shift now happening to many people around him, be it ex colleagues, friends or new people he has met. He feels a calling to share his journey. The book is one way of doing that!
A quest is never what you expect it to be.
Elizabeth Madeline Martin spends her days in a retirement home in Cape Town, watching the pigeons and squirrels on the branch of a tree outside her window. Bedridden, her memory fading, she can recall her early childhood spent in a small wood-and-iron house in Blackridge on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg. Though she remembers the place in detail – dogs, a mango tree, a stream – she has no idea of where exactly it is. ‘My memory is full of blotches,’ she tells her daughter Julia, ‘like ink left about and knocked over.’
Julia resolves to find the Blackridge house: with her mother lonely and confused, would this, perhaps, bring some measure of closure? A journey begins that traverses family history, forgotten documents, old photographs, and the maps that stake out a country’s troubled past – maps whose boundaries nature remains determined to resist. Kind strangers, willing to assist in the search, lead to unexpected discoveries of ancestors and wars and lullabies. Folded into this quest are the tender conversations between a daughter and a mother who does not have long to live.
Taken as one, The Blackridge House is a meditation on belonging, of the stories we tell of home and family, of the precarious footprint of life.
When working on the UNESCO Slave Route project in the early 2000s, Botlhale Tema discovered the extraordinary fact that her highly educated family from the farm Welgeval in the Pilanesberg had originated with two young men who had been child slaves in the midnineteenth century. She pieced together the fragments of information from relatives and members of the community, and scoured the archives to produce this book.
Land Of My Ancestors, previously published as The People Of Welgeval, tells the story of the two young men and their descendants, as they build a life for themselves on Welgeval. As they raise their families and take in people who have been dispossessed, we follow the births, deaths, adventures and joys of the farm’s inhabitants in their struggle to build a new community.
Set against the backdrop of slavery, colonialism, the Anglo-Boer War and the rise of apartheid, this is a fascinating and insightful retelling of history. It is an inspiring story about friendship and family, landownership and learning, and about how people transform themselves from victims to victors.
A new prologue and epilogue give more historical context to the narrative and tell the story of the land claim involving the farm, which happened after the book’s original publication.
Once the owner of a diamond mine, a wine farm and the most expensive house in Cape Town.
Former chairman of South Africa’s largest retailer, director of the Reserve Bank and the richest man in the country. As a young man, Christo Wiese cut his teeth at Pep Stores. Over the years he built a mighty business empire, which included Shoprite and a number of other enterprises. His recipe for success: an endless love for cutting deals, a fearless appetite for risk and a keen eye for a bargain. This man of great charm has never been afraid of sailing close to the wind. Over the course of 50 years these calculated risks paid off, making him one of the most successful businessmen of his generation – until he encountered the furniture group Steinhoff, and things went awry. Business journalist and writer TJ Strydom tells the story of one of South Africa’s best-known business giants in a fresh, engaging way.
‘A fabulous, sweeping adventure read – almost a thriller – that chronicles the rags to riches rise of yet another giant of Afrikaner capitalism.’ – Peter Bruce
Memoirs of a much-loved teacher and legendary headmaster of Pretoria Boys High.
Bill Schroder is the stuff teaching legends are made of. He was strict, yet kind; firm and consistent, yet creative and playful when needed. He knew the magical mix of discipline and care needed to ensure the loyalty of his students. In this warm-hearted, inspiring and often funny memoir, Schroder looks back on four decades as an English and Latin teacher and, later, headmaster, including 19 years at Pretoria Boys High.
His holistic approach to teaching earned him the respect of both teachers and students. Teaching is not only about conveying knowledge, he believed, but also about looking after the emotional needs of students. For Schroder, the institution was never more important than the individual – he always put his students first. As a headmaster he became known for doing things his own way. He gave students a voice where others wanted to silence them, he found creative ways to turn problem schools around and never allowed departmental admin to get in the way of teaching. In the early 1990s when schools were opened to all races, Pretoria Boys High under him played a leading role in transforming their school. In his retirement he also served as a consultant and a mentor to a school in a Pretoria township.
Here is a teacher who left an indelible mark on thousands of pupils from Cape Town to Pretoria.
Samantha is stamped with a 'bipolar' label that becomes the trajectory for her tortured existence. For the next three decades she will wind through a maze of anguished suffering, accompanied by memory-effacing medical interventions in the form of electroconvulsive therapies, heaps of pills and repellent hallucinations. As her helpless family and loved ones watch, often in terror, Samantha yo-yos between acceptance and denial of her diagnosis. Time and again believing she is well, she plummets into the devastating chasm of her illness.
Life Interrupted is a deeply compelling memoir that brilliantly humanises the sufferer beyond the label. It is groundbreaking in the way the author shares the horrors of psychosis and unbounded mania, the fears of depression and the emergence of recovery.
This book will not only appeal to the over four million people diagnosed with bipolar in South Africa, but to the millions of people who are affected by loved ones with bipolar, as well as to everyone who reads it.
This extraordinary account of imprisonment shows with exacting clarity the awful injustices of the system. Sylvia Neame, activist against apartheid and racism and by profession a historian (see the three-volume, The Congress Movement, HSRC Press, 2015), has not written a classical historical memoir. Rather, this book is a highly personal account, written in an original style. At the same time, it casts a particularly sharp light on the unfolding of a policedominated apartheid system in the 1960s.
The author incorporates some of her experiences in prisons and police stations around the country, including the fabricated trial she faced while imprisoned in Port Elizabeth, one of the many such trials which took place in the Eastern Cape. But her focus is on Barberton Prison. Here she was imprisoned together with a small number of other white women political prisoners, most of whom had stood trial and been sentenced in Johannesburg in 1964–5 for membership to an illegal organisation, the Communist Party. It is a little known story. Not even the progressive party MP Helen Suzman found her way here.
Barberton Prison, a maximum security prison, part of a farm jail complex in the eastern part of what was then known as the Transvaal province, was far from any urban centre. The women were kept in a small space at one end of the prison in extreme isolation under a regime of what can only be called psychological warfare, carried out on the instructions of the ever more powerful (and corrupt) security apparatus. A key concern for the author was the mental and psychological symptoms which emerged in herself and her fellow prisoners and the steps they took to maintain their sanity. It is a narrative partly based on diary entries, written in a minute hand on tissue paper, which escaped the eye of the authorities. Moreover, following her release in April 1967 – she had been altogether incarcerated for some three years – she produced a full script in the space of two or three months. The result is immediacy, spontaneity, authenticity; a story full of searing detail. It is also full of a fighting spirit, pervaded by a sharp intellect, a capacity for fine observation and a sense of humour typical of the women political prisoners at Barberton.
A crucial theme in Sylvia Neame’s account is the question of whether something positive emerged out of her experience and, if so, what exactly it was.
The self-righteous, headstrong lawyering mother has a new and greater challenge. No longer seeking the approval of her successful mother, one of South Africa’s first women judges, Niki is out to find that elusive concept of the ‘work/life’ balance and some real, sustainable solutions.
Her journey takes her deep into feminist philosophies as she struggles to understand the unfolding media-driven drama of the Oscar Pistorius trial while researching issues of ethics in the legal profession. But in between life and children, Niki is also determined to navigate her own way around the new world of print and publishing and connect with her own identity as a writer. How is she going to survive all this?
Something In Between is a light-hearted non-fiction narrative about real issues in a changing world: issues of parenting and the legal profession, tertiary institutions and marriage institutions; issues about the old feminist debate and why it’s still unresolved and some lessons learnt about the world of books and book publishing. A memoir of her last three years and all of it absolutely true.
When opportunity strikes, television producer Deon Maas joins the boatloads of migrants heading for Germany. Faced with the choice of taking all his possessions along or selling everything, he opts for the latter. With a duffel bag and his four dogs, he departs for the First World.
Decadent Berlin blows his mind but also leaves him at a loss for words. As he criss-crosses the city, scratching at its pulsating underbelly, he marvels at German idiosyncrasies, and is roped into this new world by an array of vegan anarchists, eclectic musicians, football hooligans and graffiti artists.
As he tries to settle in, he has to deal with everything from obnoxious bureaucrats to nosy neighbours. In the process, Maas debunks a few myths about the First World: it’s not a perfect place where everything works, and German efficiency is definitely overrated.
By confronting the loss of his support network and adapting to a different political and social context, he learns exactly how deep his African roots go and what it takes to find your place in Europe as a white African.
How does a middle-class Afrikaans boytjie from Springs, a rebellious product of Christelik-nasionale Opvoeding, end up in the grubby world of protest punk, slap-bang in the middle of the anti-apartheid struggle?
The '80s in South Africa were a mess, a schmangled clusterf*ck of a decade. For some, it was braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet. For others, it was a one-eyed bumbling about in a world without signage, desperately looking for the emergency exit. While the black population was becoming increasingly agitated and militant, the white dorps, towns and leafy suburbs of South Africa’s cities were mostly ignorant in their privileged bliss. Whiteys were like the frog in the cooker, not realising that the temperature was on the rise. Soon they would slowly, to their terminal surprise, turn white belly-up amid the froth of bubbles boiling from below. Soon it would be too late to get the hell out.
But in tiny pockets of white rebellion, the country was beginning to hum with resistant energy in Joburg, Cape Town and Durban. The '80s counter-culture and the music it produced was anti-establishment, anti-government, anti-apartheid, but not self-consciously so. While the state saw this strange white subculture as a hive of hedonists and drugged-up nihilists, this anarchic clutter of guitar-wielding, pill-munching, dope-smoking musicians and their followers were in fact a second front in the struggle against apartheid.
In brilliantly tragic and hilarious detail, Between Rock & A Hard Place is the epic memoir of Carsten Rasch’s role in the South African counter-culture Punk and New Wave scene in the late '70s and early '80s. Through his eyes as a musician, promoter and enthusiastic participant, it tells the story of those tumultuous and giddy times with heartfelt irreverence. Veering between lucid moments of desperate innovation and psychotic adventures on the rim of sanity, all the time riding roughshod at delirious speed over the potholes of “culture”, the reader is introduced to half-forgotten heroes, now fast disappearing into the fog of time, and the band of misfits who attempted to disrupt “the system”.
Vusi Mavimbela is one of South Africa's foremost political adventurers and wanderers. A writer of singular verve, humour and descriptive power, his memoir provides penetrating pen portraits of many well-known South African and African political actors, including martyred uMkhonto weSizwe guerilla Solomon Mahlangu, Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, Robert Mugabe and a galaxy of senior ANC exiles such as Joe Slovo, Chris Hani, Josiah Jele, Joel Netshitenzhe and Mac Maharaj.
He touches on and illuminates the personalities of many influential men and women in South Africa's early democratic governments. But the heart of Mavimbela's narrative lies in his unique experience of working as a top administrator and counsellor in the offices of Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. In the most intimate detail, he describes the emergence and escalation of the conflict between those two flawed principals. He captures the drama of their struggle and its destructive fallout for the new South African state.
Mavimbela offers a potent warning: loyalty and long service to a political party is no guarantee of wise and effective leadership.
Die oorlewingstog van 'n dapper vrou.
“ ŉ Kale vlakte waar my regterbors eens was. Ek maak my oë toe en laat my brein toe om te proe aan hierdie monumentale ding. Kanker schmanker, besluit ek. Ek is nog net soveel vrou soos voor die operasie. My vroulikheid het toe al die tyd nie in my bors gesit nie. Dit sit in my kop, in my hart, in daardie onmeetbare, onaantasbare iets wat die gees genoem word.”
In hierdie aangrypende boek deel die bekende spanningsverhaalskrywer Madelein Rust die intiemste besonderhede van haar reis met borskanker. Dit is ŉ brutaal eerlike vertelling wat haar belewenis van die siekte met patos en humor uitbeeld. Lesers verkry ŉ eiesoortige blik op die fisieke ervarings van borskankerstryders sowel as die ewig veranderende binnewêreld van dié wat teen die siekte veg.
Kanker schmanker! rus borskankerstryders toe met inligting wat nie altyd geredelik beskikbaar is nie en help hul geliefdes om die reis met kanker beter te verstaan. Dit is ŉ boek van hoop en triomf wat die leser hardop laat huil en laat lag. Dis 'n verhaal vir elkeen van ons wat ŉ stryd van enige aard stry.
South Africa’s pre-eminent historian explains the spectacular rise – and probable demise – of the numerical minority that dominated 20th-century South Africa.
The Afrikaners are unique in the world in that they successfully mobilised ethnic entrepreneurship without state assistance, controlled the entire country, and then yielded power without military defeat. Award-winning author Hermann Giliomee takes a hard analytical look at this group’s dramatic ascent and possible disappearance as a nation in a series of well-argued thematic chapters. Topics range from ethnic entrepreneurship, the ‘coloured vote’ and ‘Bantu’ education to Nelson Mandela’s relationship with the last Afrikaner leaders.
It ends with a final chapter on the most likely future for this sometimes admired, often reviled group, which undoubtedly left the largest imprint on South African history in the 20th century.
Locked up for poaching abalone, Shuhood Abader began writing his life story. For over fifteen years, he had been a small cog in a criminal industry stretching from the Cape underworld to China’s luxury seafood market. As abalone – perlemoen, perly – vanishes from the South African coast, Shuhood’s first-person account takes us right into the heart of the crisis.
Kimon de Greef’s postgraduate research on poaching led him into journalism, and today he is the pre-eminent local expert on the illicit abalone trade. He contextualises Abader’s raw, immediate tale by showing how the system works: from desperate fishing communities via gang strongholds on the Cape Flats, tik, guns and police complicity to the harbours of Morocco and Hong Kong.
Journey with the authors through death-defying dives, blackmail, robbery, shark encounters, near-drownings, and chases by police and rivals.
Poacher tells the story of a deadly black market; but it is also the story of one man, deeply conflicted, committed to his faith and searching for a better way.
In April 1981, Landa Mabenge enters this world, trapped in a girl’s body. From an early age, Landa is aware that he does not relate to his female form, despite being socialised as a girl. In this groundbreaking and brutally honest memoir, Landa Mabenge establishes himself as a resounding and inspirational voice for anyone fighting to define themselves on their own terms. In mesmerising detail, Becoming Him lays bare Landa’s tortured world, growing up trapped in the wrong body, while unflinchingly tracing his transition from female to male.
His childhood in Umtata is brutally shattered, when at age 11 an angry woman and her zombie-like husband unexpectedly arrive to force him to accompany them to Port Elizabeth. Life in PE with ‘The Parents’ soon morphs into a Dickensian nightmare. Landa is subjected to horrific physical, emotional and psychological abuse as he descends into a world of isolation and shame. He recalls his prison of powerlessness: “I count the years I will have to remain a slave. There are seven before my redemption: 7 x 365 = 2555 days. Today is nearly at an end. By the end of tomorrow there will be 2554. By the end of the week, 2548. And so I will myself on. Eventually the day will come when I will be free.”
At 18 Landa is finally able to escape PE to study at UCT, where he tries to embrace life as a butch lesbian, but he remains tortured by his female body. After a close-to-death break down, Landa finally finds strength to embark on an arduous four-year-long journey to physically and legally become “him”, relentlessly researching what it will entail to embark on gender alignment. In 2014, Landa makes history by becoming the first known transgender man in South Africa to successfully motivate a medical aid to pay for his surgeries through the Groote Schuur Transgender Clinic.
Both heartbreaking and uplifting, Becoming Him is a unique story of torture and triumph, bravely opening the lid on cultural shame and abuse against those who choose a path less travelled.
Multiple award-winning author Elsa Joubert's memoir about life after the death of her beloved husband. She must come to terms with the loss of independence, friends who die and the changes in her memory and bodily powers. Vivid memories of her eventful life as a celebrated writer are skilfully woven into her story. Filled with wisdom, compassion and humour, this book will leave no reader untouched.
Steve Joubert had always wanted to be a pilot and the only way he could afford to do so, was to join the South African Air Force in the late 1970s.
As an adventurous young man with a wicked sense of humour, he tells of the many amusing escapades he had as a trainee pilot. But soon he is sent to fight in the Border War in northern Namibia (then South West Africa) where he is exposed to the carnage of war. The pilots of the Alouette helicopters were witness to some of the worst scenes of the Border War. Often, they were the first to arrive after a deadly landmine accident.
In the fiercest battles their gunships regularly supplied life-saving air cover to troops on the ground.
Die motiewe agter gesinsmoorde is dikwels vreemder as fiksie. Tergende vrae kan deur psigiaters beantwoord word ... of dalk nie. Deur na verskeie gevalle van gesinsmoord te kyk gooi hierdie boek ’n bietjie lig in 'n baie donker plek. Met onder meer die stories van die Lotters wat gebreinspoel was tot moord op hul ouers en die Van Breda bylmoorde.
At the height of her journalism career, more than one million households across the country knew her name and her face. Her reportage on human suffering and triumph captivated viewers, and with it Vanessa Govender shot to fame as one of the first female Indian television news reporters in South Africa. Always chasing the human angle of any news story, Govender made a name for herself by highlighting stories that included the grief of a mother clutching a packet filled with the fragments of the broken bones of her children after they’d been hacked to death by their own father, and another story where she celebrated the feisty spirit of a little girl who was dying of old age, while holding onto dreams that would never be realised. Yet Govender, a champion for society’s downtrodden, was hiding a shocking story of her own. In Beaten But Not Broken, she finally opens up about her deepest secret – one that so nearly ended her career in broadcast journalism before it had barely kicked off.
She was a rookie reporter at the SABC in 1999. He was a popular radio disc jockey, the darling of the SABC’s Lotus FM, a radio station catering to nearly half a million Indian people across South Africa. They were the perfect pair, or so it seemed. And if anyone suspected the nature of the abusive relationship, Govender says, she doesn’t believe they knew the full extent of the horror that the popular DJ was inflicting on this intrepid journalist. The bruising punches, the cracking slaps, and the relentless episodes filled with beatings, kicking and strangling were as ferocious as the emotional and verbal abuse he hurled at her. No one would know the brutal and graphic details of Govender’s story … until now.
In Beaten But Not Broken, this Indian woman does the unthinkable, maybe even the unforgiveable, in breaking the ranks of a close-knit conservative community to speak out about her five-year-long hell in this abusive relationship. Her story also lays bare her heart-breaking experiences as a victim of childhood bullying and being ostracised by some in her community for being a dark-skinned Indian girl. Govender tells a graphic story of extreme abuse, living with the pain, and ultimately of how she was saved by her own relentless fighting spirit to find purpose and love. This is a story of possibilities and hope; it is a story of a true survivor.
In The Eight Zulu Kings, well-respected and widely published historian John Laband examines the reigns of the eight Zulu kings from 1816 to the present.
Starting with King Shaka, the renowned founder of the Zulu kingdom, he charts the lives of the kings Dingane, Mpande, Cetshwayo, Dinuzulu, Solomon and Cyprian, to today’s King Goodwill Zwelithini whose role is little more than ceremonial.
In the course of this investigation Laband places the Zulu monarchy in the context of African kingship and tracks and analyses the trajectory of the Zulu kings from independent and powerful pre-colonial African rulers to largely powerless traditionalist figures in post-apartheid South Africa.
Duduza. Bopha. Imbiza. Phapha. Asixoliseni. Amapopeye . . . What is the power of a single word?
Six days a week, advertising creative Melusi Tshabalala posts a Zulu word on his Everyday Zulu Facebook page and tells a story about it. His off-beat sense of humour, razor-sharp social observations and frank political commentary not only teaches his followers isiZulu but also offer insight into the world Melusi inhabits as a 21st century Zulu man.
Over the past few months he has built up a big and a loyal following that include radio host Jenny Crwys-Williams and Afrikaans author Marita van der Vyfer. He pokes fun at our differences and makes us laugh at ourselves and each other.
Melusi asks critical questions of everyone, from Aunty Helen, Dudu-Zille to Silili (Cyril Ramaphosa) and even Woolworths (why are their aircons always set on ‘jou moer’?). His fans love him for his honesty and commitment to pointing out subtle and overt forms of prejudice and racism.
Melusi’s Everyday Zulu holds up a mirror that shows South African society in all its flaws and its sheer humanity. Most importantly, he shows the power of words and that there’s umzulu in all of us!
'I was made in Coffee Bay. Right there on the beach, in the sand.'
From the opening lines, we are drawn in and engrossed by this startling memoir of a singular childhood. Suzan is adopted as a newborn in the late 1960s into a seemingly loving and welcoming family living in Pietermaritzburg. But Suzan is set on a collision course with, most particularly, her adoptive mother, and society, from her very beginning. Suzan's relationship with her mother is fraught with drama, which veers over into a level of emotional abuse and needless cruelty that is shocking.
At the age of thirteen, Suzan is sent to a place of safety as a ward of the state, effectively 'orphaning' her. From there, she spirals out of control – fighting to survive in a world of other neglected, abandoned and abused children. She becomes a 'runner', escaping at every opportunity from her various places of confinement, grabbing her schooling in snatches, living on the edges of a drug and prostitution underworld, finding love wherever she can.
Suzan’s young life was the stuff of movies, but it is her writing, in a voice that is unforgettable and true, that transforms her memories into something magical rarely matched in South African literature. A new classic.
Charles Abrahams is a world-class lawyer who sued multinationals for colluding with the apartheid government, but at twelve he was determined to become a world-famous heartsurgeon. Then a school inspector shattered his dream: coloured children from the Cape Flats 'should not aim too high'. Class Action is the story of how Charles aimed high anyway, despite a childhood that included forced removal, dire poverty and the deep sense of shame of being neither white nor a 'white coloured'. As one of eleven children in a poor family, he experienced constant hardship and family strife.
Violence was ubiquitous: his street was notorious for its gang fights, his father abused his mother at home, and schoolteachers beat darker-skinned children like him. Charles wanted a larger life, and he found it through student politics, anti-apartheid activism and reading. He studied relentlessly, finding not only formidable political weapons, but a means to delve into the damage apartheid had done to his personal identity, selfesteem, sexuality and morality. He went on to qualify as a lawyer and, after defending local gangsters, he sought to do good through human-rights and class-action law. He has since spearheaded some of South Africa’s most historic, groundbreaking lawsuits, pursuing justice for ordinary citizens whose lives were ruined by powers too profit-driven to ever think about them.
Class Action depicts a remarkable journey of resistance and healing in reaction to institutionalised greed and racism and the harm it has done to our identities, our relationships and the people of our country.
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