Book Review: The Children of Soweto
The Children of Soweto by Dr Mbulelo Mzamane
First published 1982 and subsequently banned, THE CHILDREN OF SOWETO is a historically important fiction novel written as three separate books. The first two do not have chapter headings, so they make for heavy reading, though never dull. Essentially, this is the story of the 1976 Soweto uprising. Book One tells the story of a high school class aware of the growing desire for freedom from imposed authority – enlivened by pen portraits of two eternally inebriated teachers. Book Two tries to be the story of “that day”, the uprising itself. In Book Three comes the horror, the brutality, the killing. Mentions of life sentences for conspiring against the government. Told as a story; full of factual detail. The Minister of Police comments on the number of students killed: “They leave me cold.” (A remark more usually associated with the death of Steve Biko.) Rioting turns towards organised resistance. The time is coming for the young men to leave the country and continue the struggle against apartheid from somewhere else.
...the questions posed guide the reader towards deeper thought – and that is important. What worries me is that 1976 is now regarded by the young as “history”. It is. But it is reality and such stories need to be told. Possibly a bit disjointed for solo reading, The Children of Soweto is well suited for study in a high school classroom.
Review by Jay Heale (www.bookchat.co.za)
J Rating: *
* = Recommended