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African Women

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In African Women, the author of the highly acclaimed and best-selling memoir Kaffir Boy tells the deeply moving, often shocking, but ultimately inspiring stories of his grandmother, mother, and sister. Coping with abuse, gambling, drunkenness, and infidelity from the men they love or have been forced to marry, all three women defy African tradition, and the poverty and violence of life in a modern urban society, to make fulfilling lives for themselves and those they love in the belly of the apartheid beast in ...
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Overview

In African Women, the author of the highly acclaimed and best-selling memoir Kaffir Boy tells the deeply moving, often shocking, but ultimately inspiring stories of his grandmother, mother, and sister. Coping with abuse, gambling, drunkenness, and infidelity from the men they love or have been forced to marry, all three women defy African tradition, and the poverty and violence of life in a modern urban society, to make fulfilling lives for themselves and those they love in the belly of the apartheid beast in South Africa. Granny is sold to her future husband in their homeland - he pays the traditional bride price, lobola, agreed upon by their two families - and after fathering her three children, he deserts her for another woman. When Granny's daughter Geli comes of age, it's not surprising that Granny forces her to marry an older man, Jackson Mathabane, who might be less likely to desert a young wife. The marriage of Geli and Jackson is fraught with drama from the very beginning. Geli and her still-to-be-born first child (the author) are almost victims of witchcraft, saved at the last moment by a relative who discovers the perpetrator and rescues both mother and child. Jackson drinks and gambles, takes a mistress, beats his wife, and when Geli flees with the children to her aunt's house, demands all of them - his property - back with righteous indignation and the weight of African tribal tradition on his side. Mathabane's sister Florah is swept up in the student rebellion against apartheid in the mid-1970s, which left hundreds of young blacks dead. Much later, a single mother looking for love and protection in the dangerous world of Alexandra, a black ghetto of Johannesburg, Florah falls in love with a notorious gangster who proves to be more than she can handle. The stories of Florah, Geli, and Granny are told in their own words in alternating chapters that demonstrate how similar are the problems faced by each generation: all three women discover the need f
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Editorial Reviews

Hazel Rochman
In Mathabane's stunning bestseller "Kaffir Boy" (1986), about his coming-of-age in the slums of apartheid, his mother is a strong, quiet force who encourages him to study, break free, and finally to leave her behind and find his place as a writer in the U.S. Now he tells her life story, and those of his grandmother and sister, in three interwoven first-person memoirs that speak in harrowing detail of growing up female in South Africa. The accounts are long and repetitive (tighter editing would have made this much more intense), and it's sometimes hard to remember who's talking, especially since the three voices all sound the same. However, their connection is an important part of what they have to say: all tell of pain and grief, of women horribly abused--physically and emotionally--by the racist system, by desperate poverty, and by the cultural tradition that makes a woman the property of her husband. The violence seems overwhelming, and yet somehow these women remain a family and help each other find self-reliance. There's no sloganizing; rather, the political is made personal in scenes of daily confrontation, between women and men, between black and white.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060164966
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 320
  • Lexile: 950L (what's this?)

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