A while ago I made the decision to start blogging about the books that I have read. This post marks the first such entry in this iteration of the blog.
Title: Maverick, Extraordinary Women From South Africa’s Past
Authors: Lauren Beukes and Nechama Brodie
Published by Umuzi (an imprint of RandomStruik)
Date started: 27 July 2018
Date finished: 28 July 2018
Reason for reading: For enjoyment and to learn more about South Africa’s past. And because it is written by Lauren Beukes. (I have also ordered Nechama Brodie’s The Joburg Book based on the strength of Maverick).
Maverick, delivers on what it’s subtitle “Extraordinary women from South Africa’s Past” promises. The second edition, updated in 2015, tells the story of 23 women who in one way or another were extraordinary. The stories are reported without strong judgement in a delightfully conversational tone. Lauren Beukes and Nechama Brodie do a fantastic job in exploring a diverse collection of politicians, entertainers, killers and other miscellaneous women and I would love to see a sequel exploring more of South Africa’s women.
Reading these stories, I learnt things about South Africa that I did not know. For example that during the South African war (1898 – 1902) the British promised African soldiers land and had them set the Boer’s farms alight during the scorched earth campaign. I was delighted to read a story about Lilian Ngoyi, whose existence I was ignorant of until last December when I discovered her through her appearance on the San Francisco’s Mission District Women’s Building MaestraPeace mural. Reading Helen Martins’s story enriched my memory of the trip through the Owl House in Nieu Betheseda that we took last September when we did our first family road trip.
My favourite incident recounted in the book is how Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams ensured that the 9 August 1956 Women’s gathering was not a large public protest but 20,00o individual protests instead.
I wept when I read about Ruth First’s murder and the outrage that allowed a liar to be granted amnesty at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. (Note: I know that this is one of many such instances and I am sure at some stage I will write a rant about how appalling it is that those who did not offer the truth received amnesty instead of prosecution).
This was a holiday read, and with it’s format of each chapter telling the story of a different woman (with the exception of the Struggle Sisters which combines the stories of Helen Joseph and Lilian Ngoyi) makes it an easy to read book. I highly recommend it.
Love and South African Women’s History, T