AFRICAN WOMEN by Mark Mathabane

AFRICAN WOMEN

Three Generations
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 The South African-born Mathabane strains to tell the stories of his sister, mother, and grandmother, illuminating some lesser- known facets of black life under apartheid. Wanting to tell of the unsung struggles of black women in South Africa, Mathabane (co-author of Love in Black and White, 1991; Kaffir Boy in America, 1989; Kaffir Boy, 1986) probes his family in cycles of short chapters. Sister Florah found her marriage complicated by lobola, the traditional bride price. Mother Geli suffered through a marriage to an older man she didn't love. The author's Granny, abandoned in her village by her philandering, city-employed husband, bravely moved on her own to Johannesburg. All three women fought for safety, work, and housing, suffering the indignities of life in the squalid, dangerous black township of Alexandra. Whites are mostly absent from these stories, and the country's political upheavals intrude only occasionally. More important are township neighbors, the local church, and the persistence of traditional practices, including puberty rituals and a widespread belief in witchcraft, which the author warns readers not to deride. Though Mathabane claims to tell the women's stories ``in their own words,'' this is no oral history; his heavy authorial hand repeatedly intrudes, for instance, in putting phrases such as ``the perfect anodyne'' or ``Poverty, with its thousand terrors, returned'' in the mouth of his illiterate Granny. A worthy subject, but its treatment is marred by the author's suspect style. (25 b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: April 27th, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-016496-4
Page count: 372pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1994




MORE BY MARK MATHABANE

NonfictionMIRIAM’S SONG by Miriam Mathabane
by Miriam Mathabane
NonfictionLOVE IN BLACK AND WHITE by Mark Mathabane
by Mark Mathabane

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionGUIDEBOOK TO RELATIVE STRANGERS by Camille T. Dungy
by Camille T. Dungy
IndieCrossroads by Christopher Conte
by Christopher Conte
IndieCOME SEPTEMBER by Harriet A. Robinson
by Harriet A. Robinson