No More Strangers Now: Young Voices from a New South Africa

by Tim McKee

Tim McKee's interviews with 12 South African teenagers are presented here as... read more

Tim McKee's interviews with 12 South African teenagers are presented here as lively first-person narratives, with each teen describing his or her life before and after the end of apartheid. Selected from 65 interviews the author conducted over a ten-month period in 1995-96, these 12 adolescent voices represent a range of personal histories and perspectives: Nithinia Martin, an 18-year-old Coloured woman, speaks candidly about race relations and her strong desire throughout childhood and adolescence to be like the white kids; 17-year-old Michael Njova was an abandoned child who survived by "stealing and stabbing" on the streets of Johannesburg until he was caught and sent to an orphanage at age 13; Vuyiswa Mbambisa, 16, grew up in exile with her mother in Angola and returned to Soweto as a young teenager to live with her grandmother, finding conditions much worse than she had expected; 16-year-old Mark Abrahamson had always taken his life of white privilege for granted until the breakdown of apartheid allowed him to see, close-up, how bad conditions were in the Black townships; and 15-year-old Pfano Takalani, living a traditional life in a remote rural area in Venda, comments that the biggest change in his life in the past few years occurred when his eldest brother was installed as chief in 1993. Eight of the 12 teens interviewed are Black and, with the exception of Pfano Takalani, each of them describes a childhood defined by poverty, brutality and oppression, and each one speaks with an amazing lack of bitterness. All 12 -- Black, white, Coloured and Indian -- have high hopes for a future where opportunity, freedom and equality will replace poverty, brutality and oppression. As 18-year-old Bandile Mashinini says: "We have a new constitution, and it's a great foundation, but it's still only ink on paper. I want to make sure we build well on top of it." This book gives us hope that he and his peers will be able to do just that. (Ages 12-18)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998

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