Times of Apartheid over? (1/3)


‎النسخة القادمة بالعربية/ Next version in Arabic

ABRINK

A DRY WHITE SEASON BY A. BRINK, 1979, PENGUIN BOOKS

Human cruelty 

People are afraid when they read this novel. They are disgusted by the violence and cruelty of the colonizers. They learn what courage is.

We know at first that Ben Le Toit, a white Afrikaner who teaches history and geography at an African school, will die but we‘re eager to find out how and why. Ben was looking forward to meeting and asking his friend, the narrator and a novelist, to look after his notes and journals and use them in case something happened to him. 

When they met, it seemed to the narrator that Ben was scared and yet appears a man of ruthless determination. 

Soweto Uprising

What triggered Ben’s fighting is related to the consequences of riots that took place in Soweto. 

One can’t help thinking Ben paid for his deep involvement but he set a good example to many people. Could he, should he have acted differently?

Here’s the first part (out of three) of summary and comments

We know at first from the foreword that Ben Le Toit, a white Africaner who teaches history and geograhy at an African school, will die but we’re eager to find out how and why. Ben was looking forward to meeting and asking his friend, a narrator and a novelist, to look after his notes and journals and use them in case something happened to him. When they met, it seemed to the narrator that Ben was scared and yet gave the impression of a man of ruthless determination.

What triggered Ben’s fighting is related to the consequences of riots that have taken place in Soweto. Ben knows Emily and her husband Gordon Ngubens, an African who works as a cleaner in the same school as Ben. He looks after Gordon’s son, Johnathan, for whom he pays school fees because Johnathan’s parents can’t afford it and for Johnathan’s own sake. But Johnathan was once caught and got punished by the police (Special Branch) which caused Gordon to be truly outraged and resentful toward the Special Branche. Ever since Johnathan no longer attended school, disappeared. Afterward, he was arrested by the police during riots that had erupted in Soweto. Then, his parents, who tried in vain to find him, asked Ben for help. I took Ben a long time to find out that Johnathan was dead. Gordon decided to find and bury his son’s body but he was arrested and jailed.

Once again Ben did his utmost to reassure Emily and to have her know about her husband’s detention. Ben is still hopeful and feels very confident about Gordon’s release from prison. Unfortunately, Gordon’s conditions of detention were deteriorating. Later on, Ben heard about Gordon’s death on the radio. The Special Branche said he had committed suicide.

Ben attended the funeral even though Stanley, an African taxi driver, advised him not to do so for fear of troubles in Soweto. Indeed, new youngsters riots broke out and there were violent clashes between them and the police. Emily’s eldest son disappeared (but his mother heard from him later on) and a doctor, who attended the autopsy of Gordon, got arrested.

Such events made Ben increasingly aware of injustice and was led to make common cause with Gordon’s family and black people and he was blamed for devoting much less time to his own family. He becomes gradually aware of black people’s living conditions as he visited Soweto twice or more. He spent quite a lot of time to gather evidence on Gordon’s death and he was overwhelmed with a huge need for help by black people ever since his photography made front-page in English newspapers.

However, the bulk of Africaners just ignore what is going on and aren’t aware black people’ s suffring and or have no feeling for their living conditions. Besides, Ben’s family members and others told him when he had asked them to help him make the truth come into light on Gordon’s mysterious death, that his involvement is likely to become a source of embarrassment to them and hurt them. All of them are convinced the Special Branche (SB) are fair and know what they do. Therefore, many of them advised him to stay out of the business or argue Ben sides with the enemy (People they call communists and that who are thought to stock riots and civil disorder) against his own country.

About Soweto uprising :

Soweto

Soweto

Soweto

About the novelist

The novelist

‎النسخة القادمة بالعربية

Auteur : Salahdnl

Passionné pour le partage.

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