Peter Abraham’s Mine Boy is a gem in any one’s library. An old set back in Kenya high school in the 1990s, it brings back memories of Xuma, Daddy, Leah and of course J. P. Williamson aka Johannes. The first time I read it, it brought into my imaginations the typical life in the ghetto and backwaters of South Africa.
It typically depicts the lives of black South Africans in white dominated country.
‘….Around them the streets was alive. People moved up and down.. Children played in the gutters, and picked up dirty oranges peels and ate them.
The pulsating motion of Malay Camp at night was everywhere. Warm and intense and throbbing.
Others were sad.
Others with friends.
Some we’re born…
“You say you don’t know. I know. I know Xuma. I know.” She looked at him and there was a shadow of a smile on her lips but her eyes were serious. “I know,” she whispered. Then she pulled herself together and her voice changed:
“Listen to me Xuma. I will try again to make you understand. In the cityitvis like this: all the time you ate fighting. Fighting. Fighting! When you are asleep and when you are awake. And you look only after yourself. If you do not you are finished. If you are soft everyone will spit in your face. They will rob you and cheat you and betray you. So, to live here, you must be hard. Hard as a stone. Any money is your best friend. With money, you can buy someone to go to jail for you. That is how it is, Xuma. It may be good, it may be bad, but there it is. And to live one must see it. Where you come from it isn’t so. But here it is so.
Again there was a long silence between them. The stars came out and twinkled brightly in the sky. The moon came up, and chasing the Milky Way, yes traveling eastwards….’