A Far Cry: 2the Making of a South African

Mary Benson, Author
Mary Benson, Author Penguin Books $8.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-14-010858-3
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
This autobiography of writer and activist Benson is full of interesting accounts of incidents in the tumultuous political and social history of South Africa over the last few decades. Yet though she was in the thick of the country's racial conflict, the author always seems more of a spectator than a participant, writing with a kind of star-struck quality about the notables she met. Perhaps this can be attributed to Benson's somewhat bland emotionality. In 1961, for example, in the midst of writing a history of the African National Congress, she tells the reader: ``I suddenly realized I felt wholly South African, involved in the fate of my country, belonging.'' Benson did indeed belong, interviewing and hobnobbing with such political luminaries as Nobel Peace Prize winner Chief Albert Lutuli, Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela. In the end, one must marvel at the remarkable elements that make up Benson's life, including her friendship with writer Alan Paton, her speech as the first South African to testify before the U.N.'s committee on apartheid and her house arrest in 1965 for activities deemed threatening to the state. Photos. (Dec.)
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