BACKGROUND IN SUNSHINE: Memories of South Africa by Jan Juta

BACKGROUND IN SUNSHINE: Memories of South Africa

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Languid, amiable recollections of a South African childhood in the days when the white man's burden was intact, the colored servants knew their place, and the sun never set on the England's righteous Christian empire. Only son of a prominent South African barrister who served as Cecil Rhodes' attorney general, Juta remembers mama, papa, his four sisters, assorted eager-to-please domestics, and the flora and fauna of their Cape Colony home with unabashed nostalgia tempered by vague forebodings of racial strife to come. Highpoints -- but they are never very high -- include a visit to ""Groot Schuur,"" (Rhodes' trophy-filled mansion), playing with Kipling's children who lived next door, and occasionally witnessing exotic ""native"" ceremonies. But the ""black-skinned hordes"" of Bantu and Hottentots ""cunning as monkeys"" never obtrude too noticeably and the strains of the Boer War are muted and distant. Juta grew up basking in the untroubled ease of his little Lord Fauntleroy existence, enjoying opulence and harmony and dreaming vast dreams of his future life as a Parisian painter. His rememberings have a certain antique charm even though nothing much happens. Sleepy octagenarians eager to fortify their conviction that the good old days were better may find it appealing. With photographs from the family album and the author's paintings.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1972
Publisher: Scribners